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Tojima stood beside Annalina. "Ooooh, ominous." She said trying to sound spooky. She laughed. "I'm only kidding. Tojima looked up at the large volcanic mountain. "Although, with that cloak and everything. You might get a little warm." She said. " You sure you don't wanna leave the cloak here with me?, Honey?." She asked. "No thank you, Dear. I will be fine." He said. Annalina sighed but nodded. Just try to be safe, okay?." She asked looking at the bandage on Tojima's arm. "And you need to stop doing that, You have no idea how to close a would so that it will heal properly. If you keep that up you, it'll end up leaving scars." She said with a hmph!. He smiled and patted her head " I'm sorry, perhaps you can teach me to do it properly one day." He said. She smiled softly. " I'd love to." She said. Tojima looked at the time. I must be going now, the trial will be starting soon. He said leaning down, placing his forehead against hers. "I'm going to win this, for both of us." He said. " Be careful. If you're ever in any real danger, don't hesitate to use that flare." She said. Tojima smiled " Of course." He said, putting his mask over his face and heading to his starting spot at the base of the volcano.
At the base of the mountain, Tojima waits patiently for the mark to start. He hears a loud bang and takes off down the path. The path takes a slight curve to the left, due to a large jagged mountain face.Looking ahead Tojima sees that it is just a hairpin turn, and the path will continue on top of the jagged rock wall. He takes a good look at the mountain side and sees that he could probably climb up it and save himself some time in getting the flag waiting at the top of the volcano.
Tojima looked down the path before turning back toward the wall. "Two roads diverged at a yellow wood and I. well, I took the one less travelled by... and that has made all the difference." Tojima said, quoting one of Robert frost's most well known poems. He crated six shadow tendrils as well as a shadow rope. Burying his tendrils deep into the jagged, rocky, wall. He began to climb, shoving his knives into the wall and weaving the shadow rope through the hole in their handles to make quickdraws. He also covered his head with a translucent shadow sphere, to filter the air as to not breathe any poisonous fumes.
Gases seep out of the holes made by his knives, but luckily Tojima was prepared for such events. He stabs in his knife but sees that magma begins to flow out the hold and down the rock face. It melts the knives beneath him and leaves him with just the one he stabbed in. The lava beneath him as now flowed together to leave a waterfall of fire at his feet.
Tojima continues his ascent, unmoved by the recent event. Doing as he was before, using the tendril to move upward and placing a quickdraw every few feet. He would not allow such a minor inconvenience slow him down.
Continuing on the path, Tojima hears a *click* as his foot sinks a bit. Suddenly four foot tall spikes shoot up from underneath him, racing with electricity through the metal spindles.
Doubting shadows conduct electricity he sprouts four shadow tendrils. They take the shape of blades as they spin around him in hope of cutting through the metal. The sounds of the metal grinding against shadows ceased as Tojima sighed. "I'm not getting anywhere, plan B." He though. The spikes were two feet shorter than himself. He simply used the tendrils to lift himself over the spikes, feeling quite foolish for not doing this in the first place, he truly hoped Annalina had not seen that.
Clear of the spikes, Tojima continues up the path and sees that he is already two thirds up the volcano. Black ash begins to rain down from the sky, and the wind howls an eerie tune. He notices out of the corner of eyes a family of deer travelling down the mountain. The black ash seems to condense around the deer and out of it forms a ghostly pack of wolfs that surround the family of deer. A wolf spots Tojima and sends a menacing growl towards him.
"Deer?, so far up?, quite... unnatural." He thinks as he stares down the wolf that eyed him. Holding up a hand, he traps the wolves in a separate shadow spheres. He does not harm them for he knows they are only doing what comes natural to them.
The wolves become enraged and simple phase through the shadows walls and re-assimilate into their ashy construct. The deer run off and Tojima sees the ruby crested antlers of the male buck and realizes that he just saved one of the rarest breeds of deer in Fiore. Now he is faced with a different problem...the pack of ashy wolves is now growling ferociously at Tojima and begin to encircle him.
Having read about the behavior patterns of wolves, he stood his ground as the pack encircled him. Running would mean no chance of getting out of this without a fight and would mean death to any regular, unknowledgeable human being. He simply stares down the alpha, waiting for it to decide what to do.
Still hungry from the loss of their meal, the alpha slowly approaches Tojima with teeth barred. He looks to two of the five wolves presents and barks at them, ordering them to attack. The two wolves lung at Tojima dispersing as ashy smoke, only to reappear within inches of the mage ready to bite.
Tojima uses Shadow body and moves away from the wolves before reforming. He holds up and hand, trapping them once again within a shadow sphere but this time there would be no escape, no mercy as he had triple layered the spheres. "Now fade!." He said as if it were a command. The shadow spheres began to shrink rapidly.
The three remaining wolves dissipate into ash and begin swirling around Tojima, letting off a wailing howl. The solidify and disperse only to snap at Tojima with their fangs. The ash is so thick around Tojima that it is almost inescapable.
"I don't have time for this." Tojima said under his breath. He reaches his hand out into the ashes, his illusion magic working through contact with his skin, any of the ashes he touched would trap the wolf they belonged to in a deep illusion.
Successfully riding himself of the wolves, Tojima finally continues on to find the flags waving on the edge of the volcano. There he sees a snake slither out of the volcano and encircles the flag; its molten body preventing Tojima from grabbing it. It hisses at Tojima and says, "Hello boy, to get what you dessssire, you mussst ansssswer my riddle. I will make you weak at the worst of timesss. I keep you ssssafe, I keep you alive. I make your hands ssssweat, and your heart grow cold, I visit the weak, but make home in all the ssssouls of man and beassst. What am I?"
Tojima looked down at his feet and thought for a moment. He nodded his head as he slipped from his deep thoughts. Tojima looked up at the snake "You are fear." Tojima said. "The most primal and basic of instincts."
"Correct." The serpent said and begins to encircle Tojima. "Will you allow fear to consssume you, and give into your primal inssstictsss? Thossse who look fear in the eye and invite it into their heartsss will find true ssstrength if they can overcome it. Do you possessss the ssstrength to overcome?" The snake then slithers back into the mouth of the volcano, leaving the flag unguarded.
Tojima looked down at the ring on his finger and smiled softly. " I have not the time to feel such a selfish emotion, I have much more important things to worry about. I will win this thing, I will reach S-class." He said balling his hand into a fist before releasing it. He grabbed the flag.
Tojima made his way down the volcanic mountain. A much easier task than his ascent. He stopped less than a mile from the base as a buzzing sound became noticeably louder. He turned to see a cloud of large, flying insects. Their intentions became clear as they began to spit magma at him. He threw up a shadow shield, blocking the magma. Several flew to his right in an attempt to flank him. Throwing up his right arm, a ball of shadow formed in his palm. Shadow senbon began shooting from the ball until it was used up before another took it's place. Many of the insects were not able to dodge them, being shot down but others flew closer with stingers at the ready. Tojima side stepped the first and second attack but the third scrapped his right shoulder. Numbness of the arm was nearly immediate. Having the the shield explode into more senbon he took out the spitters. The few remaining began to circle Tojima until they collectively charged. Tojima quickly formed two large shadow hand which smacked together, squishing them. Tojima began to feel fatigue as both injury and use of magic had worn him down. He could feel the paralyzing poison spreading. He quickly made his way down the rest of the way.