There is a light breeze passing by the area, and the air feels nothing like the heaviness the two previous trials had. Dakota approaches the wide expanse that has been sacrificed specifically for the trials, and all the shifting sand she's ever walked across does not compare to what she sees ahead of her. It's almost like the sand is alive, slipping down into the center of the sand pit. She remembers momentarily of when she would catch ants and put them into the lion ants traps, and maybe that wasn't such a good idea because now she's afraid to approach the sand. She reaches up to her face, giving herself a quick slap on both of her cheeks. There is no crazy huge lion ant at the bottom of this quicksand, Dakota quit being a wimp. She tells herself, and then walks as close to the edge as she can without touching the outer edge. She stares across at her opponent, Umi, and sends her a competitive smile. Just because you're better at magic doesn't mean you're going to get out of this easy! She tries to send these thoughts telepathically over to the other ice mage, and even though she doesn't have the magic necessary to actually perform the task, she hopes Umi gets the gist of what she's trying to get across.
Umi stood on her side of the area looking at the sand with mixed emotions: fear, excitement, unknowing, and determination, but with all those emotions she still has a smile on her face. She looked up and saw Dakota with a determined smile showing no fear. Umi's smile grew bigger, "The clash of the Ice-Make mages...I'm not going to underestimate you so give me all you got, Dakota," Umi thought knowing that Dakota can't hear it but she knows that Dakota can feel it. "Let's do this Dakota," Umi thought with her smile that grew even wider.
Dakota nodded towards her blue-haired adversary and then turns her attention back to the proctors.
“For this trial, two mages will be partnered up in the center. You must find a way to beat your partner and return to the side you came in on. Any further questions?” Samarra announces this information though most mages already knew this before coming here. After the second trial during the two-day break, it was only natural that they inquired about the details of this third trial, and the proctors complied. Not that Dakota was any more prepared to face her own guildmate, especially one who nearly made S-Class last year. She steeled herself before the thought could get to her, though, because she was halfway to S-Class herself, and maybe she wasn’t as knowledgeable or experienced as Umi, but she wasn’t a weakling. And the promise of that fourth spot was so tempting. If she couldn’t beat Umi in a battle, there was still a chance for her to advance. She nodded her head slightly at this and looked back up to Umi. The brilliant smile she saw only further focused her mind on the test ahead, and she glanced over to Samarra again. I’m ready to go! She screamed mentally, and it was clearly written all over her face.
“Alright, please step towards the center of the quicksand.” Samarra instructs and each person did as told.
There was enough room between the pairs that nobody would bump into each other even if there was another set of partners in between. One proctor stood between each pair, a rope held in their hands. Their ankles were tied together though there was a length of rope between them to create a little slack. Dakota’s legs were already covered in sand up to her lower calves, and even though she was shorter than Umi, she couldn’t really say it was all that much a disadvantage at this point. It’d be harder to land a hit with fists since she could duck out of the way, and Umi couldn’t use her feet.
The proctors all stepped away from the pit and turned to face them. “Remember, the sand has anti-magic properties, so your spells will be cut down to a fourth of their normal strength.” It is Arthur who announces this, and then he turns to the others standing at his side. A small bit of mental communication seemed to pass between them, and then they turned to the contestants, all with bright smiles. “Let the third part of the S-Class trials begin!” All three of the proctors announced at the same time, and Dakota readied herself for an attack, though doesn’t make one of her own. If I can learn a bit about how Umi attacks, maybe I could come up with a way to counteract her. At least to a point where I won’t be the first to lose… Dakota thinks, staring Umi down intently, watching every twitch of her muscles.
Umi looked down at the sand she was in that covered most of her leg. "Great I'm going to get sand everywhere," she thought as it slowly rise. See turned to look at Dakota and saw her staring at her intently waiting for her to make a move. "Ready to go I see, okay then," Umi thought then chanted out loud, "Ice-Make: Cannon, I know our magic is weak but I'm still going to make the best of it." An icy cannon appeared on her shoulders and shoot a very small cannonball towards Dakota as she slowly walks through the sand sinking lower slowly.
Dakota remains perfectly still as the cannon ball hurtles towards her, continuing to look directly into Umi's eyes. "Your magic power can't really do much." She says, and to show this, she simply ducks down a little bit, and it flies harmlessly passed her. "See?" Her voice touches on condescending though the smile on her face shows her words are meant to lightly poke, not demean Umi. She's seen her in the games. Umi is by no means weak. She remains still has Umi approaches, and she notices that Umi is sinking into the ground much faster than she herself is, so she continues this trend until Umi is a mere few inches away. By now, Umi's legs are sunk down to above her knees in the sand, while Dakota's knees are only just starting to disappear beneath the surface. Dakota shifts a bit in the sand, digging her hands beneath the surface when Umi comes to a stop. "Ice-Make Cannons!" Five cannons jut up from the sand behind Umi, and maintain their position above the surface despite the shifting sand, which requires a bit of Dakota's attention. They are then loaded with the anti-magic sand, which is fired towards Umi.
"Darn it," Umi claimed as sand start hurdling towards her. "Ice-Make: Shield," Umi chanted creating a thin ice shield just enough to block most of them and standing in a one spot. "Ewww sand in my mouth," Umi yelled trying to spit out sand, "Ice-Make: Twin Guns," and then two guns appeared in her hands and started to fire at the cannons hoping to destroy them.
When Umi's shield is constructed, Dakota places her hands together again to form several throwing knives. She launches them consecutively into the wall, all of them landing in the same spot, destroying the wall there. She then brings her hands together and then up to her shoulder, where a fairly large Ice Cannon suddenly appears. Ah man, that used more magic then I wanted it too. I swear if I lose this dang thing because I run out of magic power I might just live down in this sand for the rest of my life. She thinks, and she dips backwards slightly. The sand is almost at her hips at this point, and Dakota only has to lean back a little for the back of the cannon to touch the sand. The cannon sucks the sand up into it, and then she fires a large sand cannon ball at Umi. The smaller cannons dissipate from Umi's guns, but Dakota isn't really concerned with them anymore. She worriedly thinks about the sand creeping up her body, though remains perfectly still. The more I struggle, the more I sink. Just stay still. She instructs her limbs, and she barely moves except to breathe.
At this point, Umi was up to her waist in sand, "If I don't get a move on I'm going to stay here for quite awhile," Umi thought as sand was hurtling towards her. "Aw man more sand cannonballs," Umi whined as she makes another shield to defend herself and slowly sinks in more. Once the cannonball hit her shield she destroys her shield and thought of an idea and made a hand shield enough to cover her head to toe blocking a bit of the quicksand making it easier to walk through. "Yes," Umi proclaimed as she started to walk forward a bit towards her side, "Last Ice-Make mage to the finish line is the next sand monster," Umi also proclaimed with a joking laugh.
As Umi starts to walk away, Dakota feels the rope around her leg start to pull, and her eyebrows knit in confusion, which seconds later turns into understanding. She stands still for a few moments longer, but the rope only pulls more, and she is shifted towards Umi slightly. She looks at the shield Umi has made, and begins to mentally berate herself for not trying to get to her side, but instead trying to fight Umi. What a waste of time and energy. She shakes her head slightly as she thinks, but the sand is starting to reach up beyond her waist, and if it gets up any higher, breathing won't be easy.
She breathes out a slow, steady breath, and then place her hands on the sand and they begin to glow as a magic circle appears beneath her hands. "Ice-Make: Floor!" She chants and the sand is frozen stiff. This won't last long, I gotta get outta here fast. She thinks, and then pulls herself out of the sand similar to how one might pull themselves from a pool. The ice breaks under her hands quite a few times, and after reinforcing it at least ten times, Dakota is panting, but out of the sand except for her slowly sinking feet. She's also lost her left shoe, but what's that compared to easier mobility? She looks at the rope connecting her to Umi, and then back towards her side of the sand pit. She was able to stop herself from being pulled along with Umi while she was getting out of the sand, but she has drifted about six feet away. She begins to shuffle towards her side, putting small ice shields at the front of her feet in order to push the sand out of her way. She makes little progress, as Umi is tugging in the opposite direction.
"Hey Umi, what do you think we could do about this rope? You think it has some sort of magical deterrent, or do you think we could break it with magic?" She asks the other Ice-Make mage, glancing over her shoulder to the blue-haired girl.
Umi stopped walking and turned around facing the red-head girl and claimed with a smile, "Well there's nothing in the rules saying we can't or its impossible so let's go for it!" Umi then made a knife and started to cut the rope hoping it would break and allow them to move freely, but by doing this the sand slowly made its way to her stomach causing her to use her to move her shield to cover the sand by the rope so she can continue cutting it.
Dakota looked at Umi quizzically. "Why are you using a normal knife when you've got that really cool scythe? It can cut through anything right?" Dakota says, but she makes a small knife of her own to begin cutting the rope. The ice is eroded by the friction made of the rubbing, as well as the anti-magic sand, and it's lost it's sharp edge while Dakota's barely made an incision on the thing binding her to Umi. She reinforces it, but the knife only lasts for about eight strokes before it's reduced to a smooth surface again. Man, how does Nova deal with sharpening her weapons all the time? Do they sharpen themselves while in the pocket dimension maybe? Ugh, this is tiresome. She thinks, gaining an all new respect for the guild's S-Class requip mage.
"Eh it's too big for how deep we are in sand to try to cut something in so much sand," Umi explained as her knife shattered before the rope was even cut half way. "Stupid sand," Umi muttered under her breathe as she makes a new one with reinforcement and also reinforced her shield quickly before it could break. "Gosh this is so tiring by the time this rope cuts we'll be neck deep in sand," Umi continued to mutter as she continues to cut the rope.
"Huh, guess that's true." Dakota says, and she continues to slowly, ever so slowly, make very little progress on the rope. Umi looks like she's having a bit more luck, but really they are no better off than one another. "Hey, what if we just both focused our magical energy on making one knife, that way it'll last longer? And one of us can cut through the rope, and then we can get out." Dakota recommends, her knife so dull she doubts it'll cut butter. She reinforces it again, continuing on the slight indent she's made on the rope.
Umi stops cutting and thinks about what Dakota said and agrees with her. "Okay so who's cut most of the rope already?" Umi questioned her as she looks at her barely half cut rope. "Hopefully she has more luck," Umi thought as she looked over to her and reinforces her shield again draining more energy as the sand began to get higher making it harder to breathe a bit.
Dakota glances down at the rope in her grasp. "Uh, well I made a little indent. Maybe a third of the way through?" She says, skeptically viewing the incision. The way Umi is straining makes Dakota think about what to do next. Lie to save Umi some energy, or tell the truth and possibly get the upper hand. It really isn't a question when it comes down to it, though. "Actually, I'd say at least two-thirds, if not more," She states, putting on a very proud look, staring at the definitely smaller than two-thirds indent.
Umi's eyes glistened as she says, "Really?! That's awesome! Now we won't become sand monsters!" Umi then began to get ready to make the knife that they decided to make as the sand started getting high slowly since she stopped fidgeting.
Dakota let out a little breath of relief. Good thing she believed me. She thought, and then focused her energy fully on cutting through the rope. With the help of Umi's magic, the knife only broke three times before the rope was cut. Dakota let out a loud roar of victory and then turned around, climbing up the sand cliff, a small piece of the rope dangling behind her. Once she got to the top, she collapsed onto her side, closing her eyes in relief. "Thanks Umi!" She shouts, hoping her voice reaches the girl on the other side.
"Yes!" Umi yelled with joy as Dakota cut the rest of the rope. Right after she cut the rope Umi put the rest of the energy she had left and plowed through the sand trying not to trip on the rope dangling from her leg as she reaches to the other side seconds after Dakota reached her side and fell to her knees. Umi then heard Dakota shout something and smiles as she tries to catch her breathe. "You're welcome!" Umi shouts back to her breathlessly. "Well that was fun," Umi thought as she falls on her back laying down on the ground.