"It would appear the others are having the time of their lives," Kagemusha said amidst explosions around the remains of Tenrou Island. "And yet here I am, watching such a pitiful display." He turned his masked visage back to the battlefield, in time to see Erza Scarlet draw her blade from Mary Jane's side.
"D-Dammit..." The blue-haired girl slumped to her knees. She'd entirely overestimated her opponent. Kagemusha hadn't even stepped out to battle her, but she'd already lost to one of his summons. This strange, crimson haired woman...Erza, he'd called her. She recognized that name, but had been so thick in battle she never bothered to process it.
This was Erza Scarlet, the Titania of the former Fairy Tail guild.
"You did well, girl. In fact, I'm surprised by how strong you've become." Kagemusha let out a sigh. "And yet, if you can't handle the foot soldiers, how do you intend to defeat the commander?"
"Bastard..." Mary Jane hissed, clutching her bleeding side. All she could do was glare angrily at the man. If she died her, Vivian would be trapped forever. Mentally, she began to curse her own weakness.
In a flash of orange-brown-something, a shockwave echoed across what was left of the island. How much damage did it take, anyway? A crater was all that was left for a few meters- a certain squirrel-demon emerged from the destruction, her hazel eyes glaring straight at the cloaked man. It was partly because of her personal dislike of him, but moreso because of him, they hadn't been able to save Vivian for quite a goddamn while; numerous delays nonwithstanding. "No more talk. I'll crush you like a cellphone being dropped on an ant."
"Iris..." Mary thought, and tried to speak, but her vision quickly went black as she fainted from blood loss.
"My my my..." Kagemusha murmured darkly, casting an aside glance from behind his mask to the fallen form of the girl. "You're a terrible ally to have, Iris. Or perhaps you simply promote nepotism? Leaving poor Mary Jane to die of her wounds, while you focus solely on saving your friend Vivian." He cocked his head to the side. "Are you sure you're meant to be one of these heroes?"
"I actually just noticed her right now, thankyouverymuch." Iris turned back to Mary, notifying her, "Hold on." Of course, she didn't have any ways to heal anyone. All she did was fight. However...she herself wasn't too exhausted; it hit her.
The sound of two auras synchronizing, Iris used her Organic Link Magic to share her "health" of sorts. It was vague, really. She wouldn't die, either, now.
Iris turned back to Kagemusha, her bestial incisors being bared. "Alright. I'm feeling generous. Make the first move, shadow cow man."
The joke was lost on Kagemusha — granted, the man's sense of humor only encompassed dramatic irony — so he let it fly over his head. Regardless, he inclined his head back towards Iris. "I suppose I'll take such a magnanimous offer." The tips of his fingers began to glow, and he dragged their luminescent forms along the air, creating an opening. "However, I hope you don't mind if I only sit back and watch the battle from a comfortable perch. Open! Maiden of the Sword! Yukino Aguria!"
The light from his fingers began to extend, forming an opening from which stepped out a young girl with silver hair, wearing a feathered cape, a short blue and gold dress, and similarly coloured leggings. Attached to her hip was a nodachi, sheathed in a dark coloured scabbard. In the possession of this girl, so clad in white, the dark blade looked very out of place.
Iris simply rolled her eyes. "Rely on your own power! Don't rely on these wusses." Assuming a fighting stance, Iris punched her fists together- transforming the bracelets on her wrists into gauntlets which had a golden colour and the shells wrapped around it were red and orange, acting as single barrel shotguns. "Ryuusenga!"
"Get off your ass and fight me, coward!" In a flash of beige, perhaps the most generic colour ever, Iris dashed forward like the Running of the Bulls, full speed ahead like a bullet train. Her fists seemed to be set alight with her hot-blooded fighting spirit (though it was actually fire magic, probably). Swinging wildly, like, well, a beast, Iris Lavra began her assault.
"Yukino, bifurcate her! You have your orders!"
"Yes, sir," was the silver haired maiden's quiet reply. She gripped the sword from her waist, tearing it off, and dashed forward as well. Whilst the blade remained sheathed, the girl proved to be considerably fast, and swung the sheathed form of the blade forward to meet Iris' fists.
Iris' magical aura surged violently; scarlet energy rose from her body at the moment of impact- this was her magical aura, taking upon a physical manifestation. of...a giant squirrel, perhaps the most threatening beast of all. The energy surrounded Iris' body; of course, the blade was weak anyway, so it wouldn't really be capable of dealing any serious damage to what was essentially a super soldier.
The sheathe collided with the energy shroud, the cloak proving to be an effective shield as the sheathed blade found no purchase against the confines of the magical energy. However, the blade was anything but weak and the resulting force of the collision with Iris' own magical energy sent Yukino bounding back. The feathered girl flipped through the air and landed onto her feet, skidding neatly along the ground, blade still clenched in hand.
"She's stronger than I anticipated..." Kagemusha thought as he watched Yukino be repelled. "That blade, even while sheathed, was able to one pierce Erza's armor. So for her aura alone to deflect it...remarkable."
Iris smashed her fists together; the force of which unleashed a shockwave that reverberated throughout the vicinity, devastating everything that the ripple of energy came into contact with. Iris' snake-esque pupils contracted (what kind of animal was she, anyway?), as her magical aura surged viciously, permeating from her very being, staturing the atmosphere with her very willpower itself.
With a *BOOM*, Iris Lavra kicked off towards her enemy, her Dragon Flashing Fang gauntlets releasing flames from their exhausts as Iris' fists shone brilliantly. "Now!" Stopping in the blink of an eye, Iris swirled around, unleashing a beam of pure concussive force towards Yukino.
There was a resulting explosion, creating a massive plume of smoke that towered into the sky. The remaining portion of land that Yukino and Iris had been using to stand on was completely destroyed, and even the ocean felt itself parted, water rushing in multiple directions. As the water and smoke died down, Yukino and Iris were revealed to be standing on the water, supported through magic. Yukino had unsheathed the blade, and it was the resulting swing clashing with Iris' own blow that created that explosion.
The pale, white-haired woman frowned, glaring at Iris. "I'm surprised I had to unsheathe Archenemy against the likes of you. I didn't expect someone to be so much trouble to my Master."
"Psh," Iris brushed the sword off as she leapt back. Of course, being a katana, it would chip and break easier than, well, any other practical sword. She cracked her neck, her magical aura surging around her gauntlet-equipped fists as her eyes began to shine. "Blades are useless against me, don't you know?" With that said, Iris heated up her fist with friction by spinning her arm around at high speeds, forming intense flames that swirled around her left fist; sparks of fire spilled from her elbow as she shot forward like a bullet train, aiming her blazing fist at Yukino.
Yukino extended her sword in front of her body, holding it across like a shield. There was an impact of a fist against steel, and the ocean gave way to physical force once more. However, Archenemy was not an average katana, no matter the biased assumptions, and it held its ground enough for Yukino to push Iris away. With a single swipe of the blade, air pressure was released, powerful enough to rend the ocean asunder once more as pure concussive force raced towards Iris from the slash.
Iris immediately took into consideration the environment for once, noting that if they kept trading blows and nobody was taken down soon, then maybe even the water and the skies themselves would destroyed- and of course, if Iris ran out of magical energy, then she could change tactics- but for now, she'd fight fair. Iris focused her magical energies into her gauntlets; projecting a magical barrier which did its best to defend her from Yukino's assault, though it pushed her back a fair distance- as soon as it faded, Iris rushed forward, her flames becoming infused with her bloodstream, causing an aura to manifest around her body. This intensified until Iris' body took upon the visage of a cloak of flames- it was "Solar Drive".
As Iris' magical energy crackled violently, she launched herself forward with a bounding leap, rocketing through the skies above. Setting her sights on her enemy, she descended like a meteor crashing to bottomless oceans, fist first as fires shrouded her arms. "Volcanic...Viper!"
With a switch of her blade, Yukino used the flat side of Archenemy to block the incoming blows. The sword resonated — was the weapon crying out in pain? — as the impact was made, reverberating in the girl's palms. Her eyes widened, the first real display of emotion she'd shown since the fight had begun. Then, with a resounding crack, the sword snapped in half.
Iris had shattered Archenemy through pure force.
And it didn't stop there, The blow continued, blowing a huge hole through Yukino's side; from the sheer heat, the wound was cauterized, but there was no question about it. Yukino would not be continuing this battle.
With a sigh, Kagemusha recalled his fighter, the tips of his fingers glowing. And then he proceeded to simply stand and watch Iris.
"Well?" Iris smashed her fists together, unleashing an outflow of pure, magical energy which radiated. Standing upon the top of the water, she couldn't help but feel as if even though her type of homunculus was a failed attempt to emulate that world-crushing power displayed three decades ago in terms of physical strength, she was pretty damn close. "Are you gonna be one of those pansy-ass non-action baddies or not? Surely you know how to fight man-to-man?" She actually seemed a bit offended; this person who caused her and her allies so much trouble- he couldn't even do any good fisticuffs?
"You're correct; I do know how to fight man to man." Kagemusha replied, sarcasm oozing from behind the mask. "However, I'm not fighting a man, no matter how physical you like to get in combat. Thus, everything you need is already laid out." Kagemusha spread his arms wide, as if gesturing to the shattered remains of the land and the flowing vastness of the sea.
"I haven't even shown you half my collection yet, Iris Lavra. And we all know your favorite piece is just waiting in the wings. Now, come!"
Iris had to stop herself from chuckling at this cloaked bastard's last line. "Still, summoning things to do things for you...it's not a proper way of fighting." The only way to fight was fist-to-fist. Still, it'd be more advisable for this to be one of the rare times she used her brain. "Then, I'll smash that evil hold you have on her. It's simple as that."
"If you think you have the slightest chance to do that, you're going to have to break some bones," the masked man replied, before continuing, "and yet for all your bravado, you refuse to make the first move. It appears I will have to."
There was the roaring of water, and the ocean began to churn, as waves of water took shape and began to rush towards Iris, completely independent of the wind currents. Kagemusha watched through the eyeholes of his mask, intent on observing the last moments of Iris Lavra.
"Quit the dramatic talk." Cocking her fists back, Iris simply smashed through the waves like they were particularly shitty concrete without a care in the world. Her aura surging like crashing waves themselves, the squirrel demon simply marched forward, dashing across the water through applying her magical energy as an adhesive, charging towards her masked enemy with the speed of a particularly pissed-off bird.
The waves began to rise, encircling Iris and impeding her process. Whether or not this was Water Magic on the part of Kagemusha couldn't be pinpointed; he wasn't making any movements with his body, not even the slightest twitch. And yet the water was moving around Iris, forming a complete sphere, truly gargantuan inside, as if it was sentient and intent on killing her.
"Perish, Undefeated of the East!" Kagemusha thought with excitement at the thought of a victory.
Wisps of energy began to rise from the squirrel demon's small-yet-deceptively powerful frame, resulting in a large *BOOM* that resounded throughout the area, releasing a powerful surge of her magical aura that dissipated the watery menace. Truth be told, when somebody simply trained their fists and had a large magic pool, they were almost invincible. Leaping into the air, Iris smashed her right fist into her palm, as frigid wind began to flow from her hands. Declaring, "Ice-Make..." She manifested a large missile. "Gustav!" In an instant, Iris Lavra launched the missile at the watery depths, freezing it solid.
The freezing seemed to extend towards the ocean as well, freezing a majority of the water solid and creating a rather sturdy path that anyone could walk on if they wanted. The issue, Kagemusha saw, was with the actual act of freezing the water. His recent summon had the ability to control water, but if she was frozen, it would all be pointless. With a wave of the fingers, a portion of the ice had vanished; this had been his frozen summon.
"I suppose it really is time to take you seriously," Kagemusha noted, his fingertips glowing as he traced a line in the air. "Open! White Sun! Vivian Starkkewolfe!" The light from his fingers began to extend, forming an opening from which stepped our a familiar figure; a young woman with pale skin, shining silver hair and vivid red eyes. She walked out of the gate slowly, her burning eyes gazing at her best friend.
The horrid summoner had finally brought Vivian up to the plate.
Iris immediately stepped back- this was the first time that she'd been genuinely affected by something since Vivian's kidnapping some time ago. "...Viv." She had to stop herself from overreacting. Once more, Iris Lavra assumed a fighting stance, ready to do battle. "Even if you wield the power of the sun, I'll freeze it. I'm going to reduce that burning evil enthralling you so I can return you to yourself!" Moving her outstretched hand towards herself, her aura surged. "...Come at me with all you have- unleash all your pathetic power at me, you shadowy bastard. I'll take it all and smash you to pieces with it!"
"If that's all, then I'll melt your ice away to protect my Master." Vivian looked at Iris, her vivid red eyes lacking their usual light, soulless and devoid of what made the girl loved by Iris. "His goals are revolutionary; someone like you can't possibly understand them!" The silver-haired girl cocked her head back, her cheeks inflating with energy. Mixing heat and magical energy within her lungs, the girl expelled it all in a blast of sparkling, white energy beam that rocketed towards Iris like a wave of death — this was Mode 1. "Solar Dragon's Roar!"
Iris'...well, her eyes and iris twitched. She'd fought Vivian many times before when they were kids, and out of all those matches, she had a fifty-one win rate compared to Vivian's fourty-nine. Her very spirit surged around her fist- at this point, she also released high quality flames with a single punching motion, "Volcanic Viper!" perfectly counting Vivian's solar energies- while normally Iris' flames would not be a match, with her very soul infused into their composition, they would be perfectly matched. Using this as a shield of sorts, Iris darted forth like a bullet, her body spinning as to resemble a drill, aimed straight at Vivian.
This spinning squirrel of death made contact with Vivian, piercing the side of the girl's torso. Her body, however, quickly dissipated in a blur of energy, and Vivian was gone. This was short lived, however, as she fell down from the sky, her hands coated in blinding white energy. "You recognize that move, right? My Solar Dragon's Silhouette, a skill that creates illusions from heat." Clapping her hands together, the energies joined into one giant flare, which Vivian lobbed directly towards Iris, a flying projectile of superheated death.
"Solar Dragon's Brilliant Flame!"
Iris didn't even blink as she swerved around- she was used to people spamming illusions/teleportation-type spells by now; and illusions didn't affect her mind, but even so, this one seemed to- maybe that masked jerk did something to her magical powers. Or maybe Iris was getting slow. But even so...
"I guess it's time to try something new.' Slamming her right fist into her palm, Iris cocked the top part of her left-handed Divine Tool back, revealing its double-barrel attachment. Focusing her energies into this point as fuel, Iris aimed straight at the white-hot glob of solar energy shooting towards her- with a sizzling sound, the barrel concealed within the Dragon Flashing Tooth loaded a glowing red ammo clip when Iris snapped her fingers before she harnessed her natural magic to bolster the oxygen density and shape it into a narrow and volatile path- it was a straight line, leading from her to Vivian, even with Vivian's attack in the way.
However...enhancing the thermal energy of eternano ambient within the atmosphere, she effectively manifested a one-way road that was the only thing separating her and her best friend- but down this single-way street, something incredible could travel. "...Gun Flame!" Thrusting her left fist forward with a powerful straight jab, a powerful pulse of flames blossomed from the shotgun barrel of the Divine Tool, tearing through the vicinity at speeds beyond mortal comprehension, ripping straight through Solar Dragon's Brilliant Flame as if it were extinguish in the blink of an eye- never ceasing to progress, the Gun Flame shot towards Vivian like a bullet released from a pistol.
In a swift movement, not missing a beat, Vivian moved forward, opening her mouth wide. The flames created by Iris pooled into Vivian's maw, slipping down her throat harmlessly as she consumed them, exploiting her unique Dragon Slayer biology to her advantage. Wiping the side of her mouth with her hand, smoke fumed from the young woman's mouth.
"And now I feel replenished!" She replied with a smile. "You may be able to overpower my attacks, but I'm still a Dragon Slayer. No fire is getting past me!" The temperature of the area began to rise, and Vivian's body flashed a vivid white, before shifting to a bright gold hue.
"Then I'll do the same!" Iris' energies surged wildly, as her boiling blood transmogrified into flames of a sort, cloaking her in flames. Alongside this, her Ice Magic revealed itself, surprisingly not melting upon contact with those intense embers, resulting in a swirling shroud of opposing forces surrounding her existence - fire mixed with ice, two elements at once, would render Vivian's elemental consumption ability moot. Her eyes shone golden for a moment - her Magic Beast instincts kicking in.
Her natural claws expanding outwards from her gauntlets, Iris simply darted forth, turning into an orange and brown flash that zipped through the air as she suddenly appeared before her friend, fists clenched and tri-pronged claws aiming upwards.
However, Vivian's Solar Drive did a very good job of upping her physical abilities as well as her magical powers, and her reflexes kicked in, allowing her to dodge Iris with flair. The golden-hued girl skidded violently backwards; the sea water began to evaporate under her body from her sheer heat, and she quickly descended to the ocean floor, a wall of water on either side of the young woman. She looked upwards at Iris, who was high above her now, where the ocean's surface was still intact. She made an arcing leap upward, and the walls of water crashed beneath her.
"You persist in fighting and don't want to back down! Then I will kill you for the sake of my master!" Her aura began to flare, and she moved her arms in a circular motion. "Crimson Lotus Revision: Soaring Solar Crusher!" She began to generate a brilliantly bright flow of energy, releasing them in the form of a strong and fast moving stream of solar flares.
Iris simply shook her head. "It's time to finish this. Viv, hold on." Her normally chirpy voice devoid of her silliness, all that resounded from the lips of Iris Lavra was an almost tranquil speech. Cocking her fist back as to charge the blasters embedded within her Divine Tool gauntlets, white-hot flames began to emanate from her very being, spiralling outwards - "Finishing Move!" Fighting spirit and determination ablaze, the limiters upon Iris Lavra's frame vanished - as if she were a magnet, her body began to gather and converge particles of energy through a constant breakdown of molecular structures, absorbing them into her existence as the arcane aura encompassing her body as her might increased; "Hidden Blazing Bond Form!" flames arranged themselves as they became solar energy, expanding into the form of draconic wings of light crimson - with a single wingbeat that whipped up innumerable gusts and an explosive burst of flame, Iris launched forward like a ballistic missile shooting into the skies, propelling herself towards Vivian's attack with a speed beyond the concept of "speed".
Leaving behind a long wake of flames while also tearing the traversed world asunder with the force of her propulsion, Iris' gauntlet-clad fists were arranged forwards, gunbarrels aimed towards Vivian as she tore straight through her friend's flow of solar flares - even though she suffered various degree burns, Iris Lavra persisted in connecting with Vivian. "Fullthrottle Break!" swinging around while in motion, upon reaching Vivian after bypassing her Secret Art, Iris clenched her fist tightly, transferring the energies shrouding her existence into this decisive blow - a single uppercut.
Perhaps a willful hesitation from the bit of Vivian that was still inside the puppet that Kagemusha now controlled, or perhaps Iris simply moved so fast that physics and logic did not care, but Vivian's eyes could only widen as she stood frozen in place. It truly was speed beyond the concept of "speed", as neither Vivian nor Kagemusha could make out when she moved, or when the crushing uppercut landed, striking Vivian harshly into the chin and throwing her high above the waves. The only remaining question was just how much the squirrel girl had been holding back if she could pull that off — and if she realized an uppercut, no matter how crushing, could not shatter Human Subordination.
Of course, fighting spirit trumped all. Burning ambition flaring like a wildfire, setting her soul alight, Iris Lavra shouted to the skies, "The finale!" Speaking the words of her idol while something within her hand, her fist flew upwards - this was the spell that would revert her close companion to normal, forged by the hands of a transcendent being. "My love, my anger, and all of my sorrow--!" Iris put all of her strength into her fist - channelling her hero's usage of fighting spirit to bring about clarity on those forced down the wrong path, the spell infused with the burning passion within her would finally end the nightmare.
WHAM! A great noise exploded out.
Iris' knuckle slammed into Vivian's stomach - her powerful enemy was knocked into the water with no loss in momentum.
"You certainly have a flare for theatrics..." murmured an annoyed Kagemusha from behind his mask. His expression was unreadable as Vivian was propelled into the chilled water, but one could only hope that his smug demeanor had been shattered, even under the mask that shielded instinct from the world. "But did you think a blow like that would be enough to stop my servants? Summoning more aside, I can simply spur this one into further action — a true performance, with you dying at the hands of your frie—"
"You've got that wrong!" Through her clenched incisors, Iris snarled like a wild beast at the cloaked villain whom tauntingly watched them. Within her hand, a shining light resided- the spell she was given before, designed to nullify any control-type power no matter its tier - Lost Magic and Slayer Magic, even the Black Arts were useless against the wings of freedom that her fist embodied. At the moment of impact with Vivian, the spell had imparted its true power upon the Dragon Slayer, finally bringing what had occurred so long ago to an end. Her gaze shifted around, Iris muttered, "I'm gonna take you down next. So why don't you finally step up?"
"What...was that light!?" Kagemusha snarled, watching Vivian slump into unconsciousness. He could no longer feel the link he had felt with her; the link he felt with his other subordinates. The 'door' had been closed. Glaring at Iris through his mask, his voice came out in a hiss. "Undefeated of the East...what did you do!?"
"That was!" A smirk of audacity. "I saved her. Using the doohickey I was given!" It was pretty simple - a spell that revealed the true disposition of those affected by its immense holiness. "Unfortunately, it was a one-shot ability. But then again, I really want to crush you. So come on!" Her eyes ablaze with fighting spirit, Iris smashed her fists together, ready for whatever this guy would throw at her.
"I see...so you really are someone not to be taken lightly," Kagemusha muttered. "I underestimated you; or perhaps it is fair to say I underestimated your guild? But no mean — losing just one puppet is no cause for alarm. The rest of my collection remains yet intact, and I shall retreat for now. This was fun, Iris Lavra. When we meet again, I will show you lot the power of a God the likes of which you can never attain." He began to descend into the water, utilising the liquid as a "gate" to teleport himself.
"Until next time."