Samarra had finally gotten the day off from all her guild activities and decided to take a trip to Crocus to visit one of her favorite people. It had been some time since she has seen Aether, probably since the housewarming party, and she was still a little unsure of where they stood. She was hoping that a trip to see him would help ease some of her trouble thoughts. Walking through the city where she grew up, she smiled fondly at the memories dancing through her head. Dragon Gunfire was still a fairly recent guild when she was growing up, but has now gotten much notoriety, and was one of the more famous guilds in Ishgar. I bet Aether is so proud of how his guild is growing ever since he has taken over. It really is something. He really is something... I wonder if he is having the same thoughts running through his head as I am... He is a man of few words, but his actions are so sweet. I am hoping maybe seeing him again will ease my troubled heart. Lost in thought, Samarra almost misses the entrance to the Crocus guild. Giggling to herself at her mistake she slowly approaches the passageway and sticks her hand out slowly. She feels it come to a halt as floating purple lettering appears in front of her. She knows that Aether has a thing for placing runes around his sacred places, so she is hoping that a gently tap will alert him to her presences outside.
Deep with the guild hall, Aether felt the disturbance in the barrier. "Young girl, mid-twenties, no violent thoughts..." as he listed the traits that his runes provided him he slowly realized who it was. He flew out from his chair and appeared at the entrance in a matter of seconds. Miriam couldn't help but laugh at the actions of her son. "Hello Samarra," he said, panting from the exertion, but smiling none the less. "It's good to see you again."
Shocked by the response time of the fellow guild master, she leans back a bit. "Wow Aether, I didn't think you would get here that fast considering you guild is a maze of underground tunnels if I remember correctly." She giggles and steps forward, opening her arms for a hug. "It's nice to see you again too. I had a light day today, so I thought I'd come say hi. How are you doing? I hope I'm not interrupting anything..."
Aether accepted her invitation for a hug without a second thought. "I've memorized every twist and turn in my labyrinth. I can't get lost. And I'm doing well. How're you doing? And how's the present I gave you at your housewarming party?"
"The lotus flower is blooming nicely!" Samarra said with a bright smile; rocking back and forth on her feet from nerves. "It's actually what made me think about you...Er, I mean to come visit you. You grow them on your island right?"
"Yes," responded Aether. "Speaking of which..." Aether did several slices through the air with his sword, creating a magic circle. The wyvern Winters then appeared. "Would you like to come with me?"
"To your island? I would love to! Were you planning on going there anyways? I don't want to take aeay from anything important you have going on in your guild..." Samarra says, a bit too eagerly, so she draws it back in with her cautious finishing sentence. She slowly walks up to the Wyvern and sticks out her hand for it to sniff. "I don't think I've officially met you. You must be Winters, huh? Well aren't you cute."
Winters sniffed her hand. He enthusiastically roared, and nuzzled up to Samarra.
"That means he likes you," said Aether. "And don't worry, my duties as master aren't as strenuous as yours. We are small, and don't commit as much property damage as other guilds." Aether hopped on Winters' back. He held out his hand for Samarra to grab a hold of.
"Ah, well I am sure you will grow to become one of the biggest guilds around, you are already pretty well known." She grabs hold of Aether's hand, a slight blush crossing her cheeks. "Thank you. And thank you Winters!" She says while patting the Wyvern's side.
Winters made another roar.
"Hold on tight," said Aether, "he can fly pretty fast. I'd be devastated if you fell off." Winters took off from the ground, flying at incredible speeds towards the island.
Samarra wraps her arms around Aether's waist and presses herself against his back. Her heart races; not from the blinding speed that the Wyvern is flying at, but from being so close to a man she admires. "I'll do my best to not fall off." She giggles out. "So how long have you been going to this island of yours?" She asks, trying to distract herself from their close proximity with small talk.
"I created the island when I took over as guild master," answered Aether. "Gardening was always a fun pastime of mine. It was one of the few things I enjoyed growing up." It didn't take much longer until they landed on the island.
"What else do you enjoy doing?" Samarra asks and then realizes her surroundings. Flowers and trees were blooming every which way. The scent was so fragrant and sweet that it almost overwhelmed her. The island looked as if was something out of a story book...a Garden of Eden. "Wow this is absolutely beautiful Aether!"
"Thank you," said Aether, slightly blushing. Aether touched Winters' nose. "I'll call for you when I need you."
Winters made another cry, and disappeared. "Now we're alone."
Samarra laughs at the remark. "So I am guessing you don't allow many people here? Why is that?" She says and then picks up a flower and bobs Aether on the nose with it; smiling brightly.
"It's somewhat an issue of trust," answered Aether. "Many of the plants I grow here are quite rare. That flower you just plucked alone is worth over 10,000 jewels. I wouldn't want anyone ransacking my location of serenity just for a quick buck. You're actually only the second person to visit my island. The only other one I've taken here before is my mother. But if we're counting all sentient beings, you're third. Winters would beat you for the second place spot."
With a shocked look on her face, she gasps staring at the flower. "Oh my gosh, I promise I will pay you back for the flower! I didn't know!" She exclaims as she lets it fall to the ground. Composing herself, she gently brushes her hair behind her ears. "Well I feel honored that you let me come here." She walks up next to him and gently takes his hand, interlacing their fingers together. Her cheeks blush slight as she asks, "So, would you care to show me around?"
"Of course," said Aether, blushing himself. "And don't worry about the flower." Aether waved his hand, and the flower replanted. "Green Magic gives life. It's how I have such a densely forested island." Aether led her down a path that seemed to create itself as they walked. The trees moved themselves.
The two walked in silence for a bit, their fingers loosely intertwined. Samarra could feel the butterflies welling up in her stomach as she finally managed to get the courage to speak up about what had been weighing heavily on her mind. "Hey Aether...um, can I ask you something?"
Aether turned to her. "What is it?"
Samarra brushes hair behind her ear, as she stutters a bit. "Uh-h-h...It has been weighing on my mind ever since we kissed at the housewarming party, but, uhh, what are we exactly..?" She stares longingly at Aether, hoping to see the answers in his eyes.
Aether stopped abruptly. He turned towards Samarra, and looked deeply into her eyes. He started to lean towards her, when suddenly the whole island shook. A set of red runes appeared on his arm. He looked at them. His eyes widened. "This can't be." He seemed to be panicking.
Grabbing onto his arms for stability, Samarra looks around cautiously. "Wh-What's going on Aether? Judging by your expression, I'm guessing this island doesn't usually have earthquakes..."
"Someone's trying to break through my barrier," said Aether. "And I'm afraid who it is, if my assumption's correct, he can actually pierce it. And if it is him, I'm not sure we'll survive."
"Well there is only one way to find out, we need to get to a place where we can see who is attacking your island." Samarra says and begins to walk out of the tree cover.
Suddenly the barrier broke. A bolt of lightning struck down in front of them. As soon as it hit, a man with blue hair appeared in front of the couple.
"Why hello there Aether," said the man. "Long time no see. I'm glad you brought the girl here. Makes it easier to hunt her."
Aether stepped in front of Samarra, unsheathe got one of his swords. "What are you doing here Saul? And how did you find the location of my island?"
"You think someone wouldn't feel the immense power emanated from your island? Frankly you seem to underestimate yourself. And that annoys me, considering the fact you've beaten me." Saul unsheathed a sword of his own, with a red blade. "I've been waiting for this for a long time Mini Acnologia. I'm finally gonna get my revenge." The sword cackled with blue lightning as he charged at them, but suddenly he disappeared. He reappeared behind Samarra, intending to stab her in the back.
Samarra, with her Static Detection, was able to sense the burst of electricity within Saul's muscles as he disappeared, only to be behind her. Using her High Speed she managed to evade the attack and appear twenty feet away from their location. Lightning huh? I should be able to sense where he is at all times because of this. But who is he exactly? Samarra thought to herself as she unsheathed the katana on her back. Shouting out to Aether, she exclaims, "Aether, who is this guy? Why does he want to kill you?"
"This is Saul Peregrine," answered Aether. "300 years ago he founded Dragon Gunfire. He's a Lightning Dragon Slayer, so I wouldn't recommend using your Lightning Magic."
"Good to know. Now any reason why he is here of all places?" Samarra asks, carefully trying to fit all the pieces together.
"Go ahead," said Saul, "fill her in on our history. You should make peace before I kill you both."
Aether sighed. "You don't know why some call me Mini Acnologia. Four years ago, Saul returned after centuries of absence, and wanted to retake his position as guild master. As he still believed that Dragon Slayers were superior to all, I did not forfeit my position to him, so we dueled for it. I won, but just barely. It took all my available power, and and used my Lightning Flame Dragon King's Emperor Scales. Witnesses to the battle called me Mini Acnologia. The near mention of my name would strike fear into dark and legal mages alike. But that's not what I wanted to become. I assume he's here kill me for revenge against his defeat in the past."
"Oh I'm not just gonna kill you," said Saul, "I'm gonna destroy you!" Saul jumped and slashed downwards at Aether, generating a large column of black lightning. "Just for you Aether. Change Mode: Black Lightning Dragon!" Aether managed to block the attack using his own magically empowered sword, leaving them in a power struggle.
Quickly seeing an opportunity, Samarra charge's forth with her katana at the ready. She swiftly charges at the backside of Saul, hoping to land a hit, or at least cause him to divert his focus away from Aether and onto her.
Saul stopped his attack, once again allowing Aether to move, but transformed into a bolt of black lightning. If the sword made contact, it would shock her relentlessly.
Samarra quickly summons a kunai to her hand and throws it through at the edge of the lightning, its path continues and the kunai digs its way into the ground. Because the metal kunai conducts electricity and provides a clear path to ground, the lightning travels away from her body. "You think I don't understand how lightning works? The Inari Family specialize in Lightning Magic! Of course I have thought of counters to my own attacks. Grounding works to neutralize the electricity, I just have to provide an outlet for the lightning to travel through. Sorry but a silly attack like that won't work." Samarra says with a sly smile, for she was definitely in her element. She was however slightly distracted by the presence of Aether. I'm going to run this guy into the dirt for ruining what was going to be a real special moment for me...I guess romance just isn't meant for Aether and I... She thought to herself and quickly switched her gaze to the man of her thoughts. "Aether, are you ok there?"
"I'm fine," said Aether brandishing his swords. "He didn't have this power when we fought though. His lightning is normally blue."
"Oh yes," said Saul. "You see, I knew I would need more power to grind you into the dirt, so I killed an inferior Dragon Slayer. This gives my lightning the malleable properties of shadows."
"I'll make your pay for what you've done," said Aether gritting his teeth. His aura flared up, but only for a moment, it appeared red. Saul sent a blast of his black lightning at Samarra. If she attempted to block or dodge, the lightning would move to attack her from another angle.
Samarra quickly put her hands out in front of her as a barrier began to form."Honeycomb Prison!" She shouted as the barrier completely encapsulated her in a honeycomb like pattern of condensed ethernano. The lightning bolts struck all sides of her barrier, causing it to crack and shatter from the brute strength. The lightning moved its way to Samarra who dug her sword into the ground. Her insolated soles prevented her body from completing a path to the ground, but because she was still holding onto the sword, the lightning shocked her momentarily before she managed to let go of the metal conductor.
Saul launched himself towards Samarra, planning to relentlessly attack her, but before he could get any closer, Aether kicked him hard in the face, sending him reeling backwards. "Don't you dare touch her!" Aether's aura had changed again. It was remaining a crimson color.
Saul got back to his feet, blood trickling from his mouth. "So this is the famed power of Erebus. Not very many have seen it from what I can tell. Mostly because not many can make you angry. You must really care about this girl. No wonder you decided to make her one of your keys." Faster than anyone could react to, Saul threw a red dagger at Samarra. It was an anti-link, which would only cause it to sever any organic link magic bonds, and have no other effects.
Using her High Speed, Samarra quickly sidestepped to avoid the incoming dagger, but it managed to slightly graze her upper arm from the speed it was travelling at. "I told you before, I can read the electrical impulses firing from your muscles; so I know when you are planning to move mere milliseconds before you are able to. And given that you're a lightning user as well, your impulses are far easier to sense. As if a tiny dagger like that could kill me anyways! Now why don't you take your leave." Samarra says and pulls out a kunai that she throws at his feet. The kunai has her summoning mark on it, as with a quick release of the magic seal, the kunai unleashes an instant pitfall below Saul's feet.
Saul's body turned to lightning, allowing him to fly above the pitfall. "What I came here for has already been done." A series of runes appeared on Samarra's body, suddenly cracking and disappearing. Aether suddenly collapsed to his knees. His magical aura intensified, an explosion of crimson. It then disappeared, and his left eye turned red. "Goodbye Aether. Now it's time for me to pay your mother a visit." Saul flew away at incredibly high speeds.
"What the hell?!" Samarra exclaimed as she rushed to Aether's side. "What just happened. Is the runes that appeared on my arm have to do with that seal I put on you long ago?"
Aether rose back to his feet. "That knife was an anti-link. Saul's plan isn't to kill me, it's to unleash Erebus and destroy me. We have to hurry and get to my guild hall. His next target would be my mother."
Looking at Aether with worry in her eyes, she nods her head. "I'm so sorry, I should have been quicker so it wouldn't have hit me!" Samarra sighs and brushes her hair back. "Ok, yeah, let's get going to your mom. I would hate to loose you..."
Aether summoned Winters. "Hop on." He offered his hand to help her.