The air had suddenly become heavy in the presence of these two individuals. Both were substantially powerful, no doubt, and they had no qualms in revealing the extent of their power right now. On one side, Artemis and his resolve burnt a brilliant gold, while on the opposite side Albion Trevelyan — a puppet in these events, really — was surrounded by an ominous cloak of dark green.
"Are you going to stand there all day?" Albion asked, as he suddenly summoned a double-bladed voulge-like polearm to his person. He held it in its circular center, awaiting for Artemis to initiate his assault, all the while smirking at the current state of events.
"Probably." Artemis said, as his black glove shone with a red aura. "Fire!" Within moments, Artemis wrote various symbols on the air. They glowed with a fierce crimson before suddenly racing towards the Dark Mage's position. The increase in speed caused the faint red aura to suddenly blaze around the symbols with great ferocity, forging half a dozen projectiles of intense flames that intended to cause the Guild Master to completely corrode away.
However, all Albion did in response was snicker. The flames suddenly stopped in their tracks, exploding as if they came into contact with something despite nothing existing between them and the enemy. Artemis' eyes widened with surprise, even the likes of invisible barriers still possess some sort of actual resistance against flames!
"What's this, some sort of parlor trick!?" Artemis' anger started boiling. As it is, he pathetically lost to Aster just before; he couldn't afford to be so helpless again! "Time to change things up!" This time, Artemis' glove shone with a light brown aura. He wrote a single symbol on the ground, before exclaiming "Earth!" His gaze returned to meet Albion's, with the intent of causing him to collapse underneath his feet.
The plan did not go as intended. Rather than Albion collapsing, the space in front of him did! All the man did was laugh at Artemis, who continued to simply stand still in the face of this opponent. "This is far too easy. You're going to die now, kid!" The green-haired man spun his polearm one hundred and eighty degrees. He then gripped it with his right hand and swung it outward in an arc, increasing the strength of gravity in a localized region around Artemis, forcing both him and the ground to concave under the weight.
"S-shit..." Artemis stuttered, as even his own magical power and strength wasn't enough to withstand this sudden change in gravity. "How...is he managing this?" Artemis attempted to speak, although the extent of Albion's suppression made all attempts almost futile.
"Hahaha, oh boy. You're so pathetically weak, kid!" Albion laughed aloud, as he decided to sit on his chair, ultimately losing his guard towards Artemis, who kneeled on the ground pathetically struggling.
"Yeah...and that's why you'll lose..." Artemis said softlyT, as he felt the magic around him becoming visibly less dense. "This is the opportunity!" Artemis released a surge of golden magic from his being, demolishing the increased gravitational pull around his being, leaving Albion to look upon him with shock.
"Shit...shit!" Albion attempted to gather magical energy through his polearm once again — hence why he spun it. His face reeked of despair, with the streams of sweat running down his face emphasizing this.
Artemis, on the other hand, was completely calm. The energy that surrounded his being was a soft blue. It permeated from him like ripples of water, as his finger pointed towards Albion. "Take me to that throne...Ehwaz." Artemis seemed to command his body, as the magic flared and began to consume the entirety of his body in a cloak of what appeared to words.
That precise moment incited panic within the Guild Master that opposed Artemis. The letters that Artemis' body had been deconstructed into flew through the so-called barrier that was erected before Albion. Artemis' body began to reconstruct and, with no time to waste, Albion attempted to strike him with his polearm.
However, Artemis' body regenerated in the nick of time; his arm flew outward to grasp the center of the polearm and upon making contact with it, pulled it towards himself.
Albion came flying forward, helpless to the oncoming assault. Artemis had already clenched his fist, imbuing it with a strong magic before sending it flying straight towards Albion’s chest. The collision’s impact reverberated throughout the Guild Master’s body, leaving a shockwave in its aftermath that rippled out from the epicenter of the strike.
In the succeeding moment, Artemis’ grip on Albion’s polearm was loosened, leaving the strike’s impact sending him flying backward to the makeshift wall he created with his magic, shattering it in the process as he slammed onto the floor, losing consciousness.
Artemis’ panting inhabited the whole room, “Haaah…haaah…” was all that could be heard. In exhaustion, the young man placed his palms on his knees before sitting down on the ground, knowing that no more enemies would appear before him at this moment.
The Final Steps
Outside of the large castle-esque building were the sounds of blades tearing through the small trees present as two combatants rendered the environment in their vicinity asunder. The cloaked Nosferatu and silver-haired Emilia Plater had been primarily relying on small-scale Magic this entire encounter, both seemingly possessing the same goals: vying for time. However, Nosferatu's focus shifted towards the interior of the castle, as several parts of the building were heard collapsing: an indication that the battle would come to its end.
In that opening, Emilia pressed forward, raising her right arm upwards and sent a slash towards Nosferatu's chest. Nosferatu's reaction time was only a moment too late. He constricted his arms around his chest, causing only his right arm to take the impact of the blade. However, prior to any permanent damage being done, Nosferatu bounced off the ground, leaving a much lighter cut than expected.
However, the force of the blade caused him to be blown backwards; using the available momentum, Nosferatu performed a backflip in the air and gained footing by smashing his feet into a nearby tree horizontally. From the previous clash, Nosferatu's face had been revealed. He was much older than what the cloak had indicated: a man in his early thirties with fair skin, blond hair in a ponytail, one bright blue eye and the other in an eyepatch.
"My, my." Nosferatu sighed to himself as he regained his standing on the ground. "Looks like our little scuffle is over Ms. Emilia. Our little time together was truly quite enjoyable, however." Nosferatu said, grinning as he took off the cloak to reveal an open white shirt, silver-buckled belt and pants.
"What's this? Suddenly getting flirty, pervert?" Emilia responded in kind, keeping up her guard as-to the unusual actions of her opponent. "What's this? Wasn't he just buying for time?"
"Well, that being said and done, my business with Slithering Serpent is done. You lot have mostly defeated them; I simply need to take one more person with me and talk to another person. Mind letting me through?" Nosferatu matter-of-factly told Emilia in hopes she would let him through.
Obviously Emilia would not let him go, and stood there proudly. "Who do you think I am?"
"Well I thought you were a reasonable woman...but I guess you're just as stubborn as all of the others?" He notioned, before his form was suddenly enveloped in a bright light.
"Oi!" Emilia shouted, sending a wave of blue flames towards his direction.
"Catch ya' later." Nosferatu said, as his body disappeared. All that was left for Emilia to pull back her flames before further destruction commenced.
"Ah well." Emilia shrugged, walking back to where Randall and associates had been monitoring their battle. "Looks like the guy had his own objectives after all," Emilia stated, "I don't think giving chase is necessary."
"Why am I not surprised...there's always those types, huh?" Randall yawned. "Looks like Artemis and the rest are about to be finished with their battles. Mind contacting Hawk to deal with them all?"
"...What about the new member?" Emilia piqued, praying that Randall hadn't forgot their original purpose.
"Excuse-!?" Carolyn was about to interject before James pulled her back and closed her mouth.
"Of course, sir." James stated, before leaving with Emil and Carolyn. They had walked to the entrance of the building before he finally let go of her mouth.
"James! How impudent!" Carolyn shouted, raising her arm with the intention of punching James.
"Ah..." Carolyn's face was shocked, and she pulled back her punch in an apologetic matter. "Yes, it seems I forgot that in my studies..." She excused herself, rushing on ahead into the Guild building and heading towards the underground area.
"Maybe I should pass through all those battles...I mean, I should see how my potential enemies are in terms of strength...right?" Nosferatu pondered to himself, as he began to slightly alter his course throughout the Guild.
"Oh dear, I'm feeling pretty sorry for Sebastian right now. If I'm not wrong...his opponents were Garrett and, uh, Álmos? Gee." Nosferatu thought rather calmly, as he was enveloped in a bright golden light that flickered across the area Garrett, Sebastian and Almos were fighting in.
The fight had nearly come to a close. Sebastian had become exhausted from fighting Garrett and Almos two-on-one. Although Garrett begrudgingly offered the help, all Almos really had to do was keep his gun locked onto Sebastian so he wouldn't move out-of-place.
"You realize you're gonna lose, right?" Garrett notioned, although his guard was still firm. He had kept an aura of Magic around his being, ensuring that the density of it made all defenses from the receiving end completely worthless.
"If I'm going down..." Sebastian flooded his clothes with explosive magical energy, causing Garrett to go wide-eyed in response, "You're coming down with me!"
As the man charged forward, Almos exclaimed, "Garrett, move to the right!"
Garrett, with little hesitation, leaped to the right on Almos' voice, causing Almos to pull the trigger of his Sword Cutlass without any hesitation. As the bullet made contact with Sebastian's clothes, the succeeding explosion engulfed the recipient's entire body, burning him severely while also leading both Desperados members to cover their faces in response.
In the aftermath of the explosion, both Almos and Garrett were mostly unharmed besides the appearance of slight chars to their clothing.
"Next up was Eddy, I believe? Oh, and his little puppet girl. That poor pair." Nosferatu chuckled in his thoughts as his light-shrouded self dashed above the grounds where Gray Fullbuster, Eddy, Pandora and Norma Cenva near the conclusion of their battle...
Eddy and Pandora had both been utterly beaten.
Pandora's strength was nothing compared to Norma. Despite Pandora initially managing to outmaneuver her, Norma bashing through everything in her way made the endeavour a pointless one.
On the other hand, Eddy simply was exhausted of all his power. All of his summons were countered by Gray's freezing one at a time, making him utterly useless in this battle. As he panted on the ground, he looked up towards Gray and finally identified his true identity.
"Gray...Fullbuster...the Ice Devil Slayer?"
As he said that, Gray's eyes looked towards the distance, seemingly ignoring the dying man's assertions as he fell unconscious. Much to his dismay, Norma began to throw a tantrum.
"Oi Ice Boy! My playmate is gone! I'm bored now! Help me relieve my boredom!"
All Gray did in response was roll his eyes and begin walking out the exit, with Norma following along with her complaints.
"Ah, and finally Lennart and Ariel. Poor things. Weren't they facing that Sky Wolf? Ooooh boy." He continued to feel pity for the woman and boy, knowing full well that the duo were cleanly outmatched.
As a bright golden light shot through the air, Ragna – formerly Raziel – picked up on the foreign presence, momentarily gazing towards the golden light and stared down his potential opponent, forcing him to retreat at a much higher speed. "He's heading towards Artemis...but I don't have time to worry about him."
His focus returned to his two enemies, who had finally seemed to regain their footing after Ragna's previous lightning strike, which had left large craters around his position despite the fact that he hadn't let down a single drop of sweat.
To the ears of Ragna, all that he could hear were his two opponents panting beyond belief. "Oh come on, is this all you two have to offer?"
"Grr..." Lennart growled, lunging towards his enemy while ignoring the obstacles in his path.
Ragna grinned in response to his successful provocation. However, much to his surprise, a golden light blocked the path between him and this child-of-an-opponent.
It took only a moment, but the bright light began to take upon a human form, with a fair-skinned arm wrapped around the boy's waist. "Sorry Sky Wolf, I gotta take him today. Maybe we can continue your rematch again sometime?"
As he said this, Ragna's expression went fowl. "Nosferatu..." For the first time in the battle, Ragna removed his hands from his pockets in an attempt to bifurcate his newfound enemy. Much to his chagrin, the man leaped out of his way before transforming once more into golden light, clearly heading for Artemis' location.
"Looks like I'm done here." Ragna made a glance to his other opponent, who was battered beyond repair. "Too bad, even a child had better chances of beating me." He softly said as he walked out of the building, somehow assured of Artemis' safety.
An Unexpected Chord
Artemis, finally gathering the strength to stand once more, would be confronted by an unexpected individual in front of him. Blonde hair, tall, broad built and carrying a child over his shoulder.
"Tch...another one of you?" Artemis grunted, keeping up his guard against this oddity. "His magical energy...it's so much stronger than Albion's. How?"
"Oh, don't be so defensive. I just wanna talk, Artemis." He said with a rather cheerful voice. "I mean, given that we're essentially brothers and all."
Artemis' eyes widened upon listening to him. "Brothers? With you? Doubt it. What do you want?"
"Ah, not literally of course!" The man corrected himself. "By the way, I should probably introduce myself again. The name's Nosferatu. Y'know, the guy who beat up Priscilla and Norma?"
Artemis' body began to fume. He was only barely withholding the full force of his wrath. "You..."
"Don't bother." Nosferatu yawned, "Again, I'm just here to talk, my fellow Magic Slayer."
"...How do you know that?" Artemis, visibly surprised, focused all of his attention towards Nosferatu.
"Oh it's simple enough. In any case, I'm here to inform you that I'm willing to assist you with your powers if you're willing to pay. I mean, how else are you going to beat Aster, hm?"
"...Heh, who needs your help?" Artemis seemingly regained his cool, shrugging off Nosferatu's attempts of coercion.
"Hmmm, I'm sure you will one day. Here, take my card." Nosferatu took out a black card from his right pocket, throwing it directly into Artemis' own. "I'm sure you'll understand how to contact me, hm?" Grinning, the mysterious Nosferatu seemingly shone into a bright golden light alongside his so-called captive, removing himself from the building without any effort whatsoever.
"That guy..." Artemis growled, before he saw the figures of Carolyn, James and Emil enter the room.
"Hey, Desperados Mage! What exactly are you doing, we still have a hostage to free!" Carolyn exclaimed, snapping Artemis back into reality.
"Don't bother, Magic Council." Another female voice came out from one of the back doors, before revealing the figures of a bruised Luna, Priscilla and Hans. "This guy is the least reliable person in a hostage situation..." Luna remarked, grinning, albeit forcing herself to stand up.
"You know you could have just rested and we'd show up eventually, right? Sheesh." Artemis retorted, refusing to help as the Magic Council's agents took the trio by their shoulders.
"Well, I mean, I can't let you think I'm a damsel in distress that needs a prince, now do I?" Luna replied, walking alongside Carolyn who nodded in agreement.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but this prince dances on the other side of the ballroom." Artemis grinned, suddenly making James and Emil feel rather awkward.
"Does that mean...?" James began to question.
"No, I'm not going to touch you. Don't worry." Artemis sighed.
It took them only a little bit of time to reach the entrance of the building, where the entire Guild — sans its members on other missions — were present.
"Job well done, guys." Randall smirked, as a sudden flock of birds flew through the sky, as if in congratulations of the Guild's achievements.