In the past few days, it had grown considerably colder in Shirotsume Town, a small town near Magnolia that was otherwise known for its warm climate. For a town that had never before experienced snow fall, seeing flakes of ice rain down from the heavens was truly a horrific sight, seeing as though the lifestyle they had established had not prepared them enough for it. The citizens broke out in panic, and while some may have considered this a bit of an exaggeration, the fear that their crops would die out was enough for the vast majority to take precautions. In the western part of town, temperatures were so severely corrupt that it forced families away from their homes. In the nighttime, only a single building in the west emanated any form of lighting: the famed tavern of Shirotsume that had been filled with life only a few days back. Now, in dire need of business, the owner provided his services for a single customer. Draped in a dark cloak, it seemed as though the man was the source of the "terrible" weather; it was so unreasonably cold that the owner couldn't manage to stay in the same room with him. He would return occasionally to fill the man's mug and return to his place in the restroom where he covered himself in toilet paper to combat the cold with an additional layer of protection.
With no one else present, it was dangerously quiet within the bar with the only sudden noises coming from the hooded figure as he sipped on his ale and the distinct sound of empty toilet paper rolls falling on the bathroom floor. Though the outside world may have been in shock, oddly enough, the hooded man found comfort in such a time. The silence allowed him time alone --time to think of his past mistakes and figure out ways to go about fixing them; that is, if he was ever fortunate enough to come by such events ever again. He was a wanted man, arguably one of the most threatening entities to exist within the world today. Never before had he stayed in the same location for more than a day, though here he was now, enjoying himself quite a bit in a deserted bar. It wouldn't have surprised him if word had already gotten out in regards to his whereabouts.
A frosty breath was exhaled from the edge of the town as another person, completely foreign to the region. The individual who entered the premise of the town was cloaked in quite a heavy cape, managing to stave off the cold to some extent. However, the sheer temperature change between his current and previous visit startled even him. Looking upon the town covered in a layer of frost, he noticed a dim light in the distance. As another frosty breath was exhaled, the man rubbed his palms together before pulling down a small part of the cloak that covered his mouth. As his face was revealed, the man's identity was as well. Nolan Houdini was his name. A powerful mage in the service of the Magic Council, he was ordered by their current authority to investigate the sudden shift of climate in the area, which was attributed to magic. And so, in his quest, he took his first step towards the dim light in the distance.
As he did so, he noticed the climate getting colder as he walked forward. "An Ice Mage...of course." Nolan grunted to himself, before releasing a small aura of magic around his being. While covered in a white aura, he also made himself noticeable to any perceptive mage. Although that was to his favor, despite losing the advantage of surprise. He continued to walk to the dim light, which appeared to belong to a tavern, at least, from the distance that he was trying to make out the details from.
Though generally unphased by the presence of another mage, this time around, the cloaked man could not help but break a smile under the protection of his hood. There was something interesting about the aura that was now growing closer and closer with each passing second --something truly unique. He was unable to grasp the concept for the most part, however, seeing as though whoever it was had provided him with nothing more than a feeble hint; even so, it was truly spectacular in nature, and in the mind of the shadowy figure, something worth waiting around for. Raising the mug towards his face, the man revealed that his right hand was in fact bare, and not covered like the rest of his being. Curiously, the complexion of his skin was rich; one would have normally expected an iceman to possess pale skin as a sign of being exposed to such frigid temperatures on a daily basis. However, it was durable and at the same time smooth, possibly even comparable to the lush rear end of ex-fairy tail mage, Erza Scarlet.
"Well, here we are." Nolan said out loud, his body warmth being stable due to the presence of his magical power. He knocked on the door twice, before entering the tavern's premises. It was extremely cold here, the icy air piercing through his layer of magical power. "Phew, what a night, eh?" Nolan tried to converse with the bartender, who was covered in numerous layers in an attempt to rid himself of the cold. "Could I get a regular sake bottle, thanks? Gotta stave off the cold somehow, eh?" Nolan ordered, to which the bartender nodded his head. Nolan sat at the counter, awaiting for his drink while also looking at the environment. It seemed to start freezing at the edges of the building, specifically upstairs. "Someone else...is most definitely here."
Just then, a gentle breeze sauntered down the main staircase and lingered about before it finally made its way towards Nolan; it was visible within the air as a thin white lining and dispersed upon coming into contact with the very bar counter Nolan inhabited. Following in hot pursuit came yet another series of dancing white lines, one after the other. It was almost as if they were inviting Nolan upstairs; the hooded being's way of introducing himself. The two mages had obviously been aware of one another for quite sometime; in that, it was only a matter of time before they were to come face to face. As the moment drew upon him, the shady figure waited patiently, continuing to sip from his large mug.
"What a predictable welcome." Nolan thought to himself, out loud, confusing the bartender. "Ah, apologies. I was just talking to myself." Nolan said, taking a few sips out of the small bottle of sake before placing it down. "Mind if I pay a bit later? I have an appointment to catch up with, upstairs." Nolan queried. The bartender, so engrossed in the cold, could only shiver a meek nod as Nolan began to walk upstairs. "Well, I suppose this will be interesting." Nolan thought to himself, as he reached the room where the white winds were appearing from. The presence of a mage was evident, giving that the door appeared to be trimmed with newly garnished frost. Nolan raised his arm, using his knuckles to tap on the door twice. He then placed his arm underneath his cape, awaiting a response.
From within the room, the man placed his hand forward, aiming his palm towards the closed door. Upon his command, another gentle breeze was summoned; diving through the small crack beneath the door, it resurfaced on the other side, before turning the knob for Nolan. With an eerie creek, the wooden door opened slowly, shining the light of a dim lit candle from the back of the room towards Nolan's face. The room itself was quite large, enough to fit at least a hundred diners. It was inhabited by numerous tables and countless chairs, all of which had been infested with a partial frost illness, as evident by the small bits of ice that had formed upon them. The only light source within the entirety of the place was the sole candle that had welcomed Nolan earlier; though it was far from luminous, the fact that the room was near pitch black made it appear all the more bright. Several extinguished candles made of wax could be seen hanging around the room, all of which were unable to burn in the proximity of the hooded man. Why one had managed to survive was most likely his instruction.
Seated at a table by himself some few feet from the door, the hooded man rose an arm above his head to wave to the newcomer. "Well now, I can't say I was expecting any guests." He announced, his voice but a chilled whisper. He averted his attention back down to his mug, caressing the fine glass with both his hands. "Come in now, I suppose. Would I be right in assuming you aren't here to restock the tavern's supply of toilet paper?"
By the looks of it, the man appeared to be rather calm, and very relaxed. His tone suggested that he was very laid back, as ominous as it may have initially seemed. The fact that he had elected to joke around before anything presented that he was also rather easygoing. As with any such being who referred to himself as a "mage", the hooded man was well aware of Nolan's existence; though judging by his nonchalant behavior, he was unable to distinguish the man based off of his appearance.
"Heh. What a weird fellow." Nolan commented on his acquaintance's habits, as the wind blew his cape slightly. He walked forwards, stopping a certain distance — approximately six meters — from the individual's figure. He stood there, with a serious visage upon his face. "Toilet paper? Sometimes I wish I had my own stock..." Nolan responded with his own humor, albeit clearly feigned. He looked around the room, noting the frost that appeared across its edges. His guard was up, albeit he attempted to not make himself hostile. "So, I can assume the reason for this village's sudden frosty weather can be attributed to you, Mr. Ice Mage?"
"You're a smart man," the hooded one teased, seeing as though the relation between himself and the mishap of the village was quite obvious by now. "Certainly smarter than you look. Unfortunately for myself, I can tell just by perceiving your resonating aura that you are one that means business. So then, if I may ask, what brings someone such as yourself to this part of town?" As the hooded one went to lift his tankard with a single hand, the sound of newly forged ice cubes could be heard rattling about within the liquor. Nolan had undoubtedly found the man he had traveled a long ways looking for; the hooded one himself would have little difficulty matching Nolan's prestige to that of the Magic Council. As the glass neared his lips, the last candle flame died out, leaving the room in a darkened state.
"Eh?" Nolan inquired, "Why the darkness?" He perceived the unlit room. The only things that could be seen were ice cubes; rather irritating. "Ah, you noticed. Good. I can get to the point." Nolan stated, his tone suddenly becoming more serious. "I am Nolan Houdini. An agent of the Magic Council. I have been ordered by the Ten Wizard Saints to investigate the cause of the sudden climactic shift within Shirotsume Town and, if possible, get rid of the said affliction." Nolan flared his aura slightly, if only to provide a bit more light. "Now that I've found the cause. Would you mind leaving this town? Surely you don't want the entire town to freeze to death?"
The eyes of the man widened suddenly under the darkness. He had never expected for them to send forth such a big name after him; all along, he had been awaiting patiently for a messenger of the Saints to deliver an important code as a secret agent --the only reason he had been waiting in the same town for more than a day. In the past, it had always been the same messenger; could Nolan have been his temporary replacement? Judging by his tone and actions, he didn't seem to be aware of his true ambitions; however, in such matters, it was incredibly hard to rely on anyone with such delicate information. Then again, if Nolan was not the messenger he had been waiting for, what possibly could have happened for him to be days behind schedule?
At last, the hooded one unveiled his identity by lifting his hood. This was done to test Nolan's purpose; upon seeing his face, he would be left with two options. Either he would acknowledge him by his codename and await the transfer of valuable information, or he would recognize him by the name that was written on his many wanted posters, Jiretto Ekuseru, the infamous dark mage who was hated by the world at large and infamous for his supposed murders and assassinations. Finally revealed, Jiretto had golden colored pupils and light blue hair, with a rather noticeable scar running through his right eye. He offered Nolan a neutral expression without saying so much as a single word; though it was dark, for a man of Nolan's caliber who would have more than likely been aware of Jiretto's existence and notoriety, had it been too dark with the sudden dispersion of the candle flame, even the shape of Jiretto's head would have been enough to pinpoint his true identity.
Upon hearing the name "Nolan Houdini", there was now an awkward feeling tingling down Jiretto's spine. It had been awhile since he had been presented with a man of Nolan's stature; with the blood of a dragon coursing through his veins, Jiretto couldn't help but admire the idea of confronting him in battle. Still yet, the task of delivering the information came first; if fate saw to it, he would get his opportunity either way. Jiretto's silence may have been mistaken for an empty threat in a time such as this, given that the man's natural features made him appear quite intimidating, almost as if he was staring down his prey. In the case that Nolan truly was the messenger, Jiretto increased the strength of the cold weather slightly, to the point where even the owner of the tavern would have had to leave the shop and leave the two men on the second floor with more privacy, as the sort of information Jiretto had to present was truly that precious.
Nolan looked towards the man, his eyes widening slightly as his identity was made clear. "Jiretto...Ekuseru." Nolan muttered, his eyes suddenly turned antagonistic for a moment before he calmed himself. "So, you're the one that they're after..." Nolan's cape, blowing in the wind, was a reflection of the turmoil that ran across Nolan's mind. He couldn't stand individuals like this; his past had forged him to hate these sort of criminals. Yet he had to stay composed, for he couldn't afford to make any mistakes at this point in time. "Why are you here? And on whose orders?" Nolan shot his questions, attempting to hide his killing intent as much as possible in a situation this tense.
Jiretto returned the man's fierce gaze with a bit of a grin. "So then, you do know me? I'm flattered!" He stated sarcastically, before lifting the tankard towards his mouth and sipping the last of the ale. He then set it down on the table before him and rose to his feet slowly, a noticeable crack in the joints of his leg suggesting he had been sitting for quite sometime. "I don't think I need to answer that," he continued, oscillating his neck in a circular motion to knead the sore muscles. "Unless of course, you force it out of me."
Nolan breathed out once more with a frosty exhale that surrounded the room's perimeter. He didn't wish to fight this man, especially in such a disadvantageous area. "Hmph, it appears that our confrontation ends here." Nolan said, keeping his magical power cloaked around his person as he began to walk away from the cold area, clearly unwilling to continue this pursuit any further. As he was walking out, however, he placed his hand on his blade, leaving behind a trail of pink petals of sorts that appeared to melt the ice that it was placed on. With that signal left for the Dark Mage, Nolan began to exit the room, hoping that Jiretto wouldn't start any commotion at least here.
Jiretto captured the subtle hints Nolan had left behind for him through the use of his refined natural senses, the result of being a dragon slayer. Even so, he would have picked up such matters quite easily, given that his lust for battle was keeping him from sitting back down. As far as he knew, Nolan was much like him; while he may have appeared to resent the opportunity to battle directly, it was clear that he was not beyond testing himself in battle, though he made it clear that the bar was not a fitting setting for their clash. "I hear you loud and clear," Jiretto chuckled, before tucking his hands into his pockets and slowly following behind the noble.
It had only taken Nolan a few moments to reach outside of the tavern that he was in. Given the intensity of the cold, Nolan was forced to surround himself in a faint aura of magical power. Despite not actually consuming his stamina, it bothered him that a single individual was capable of this much power...and was left free by the Magic Council for such a lengthy period of time. However, he didn't require to walk a further distance. The battlefield within the barren town was aplenty, especially given that Nolan would've spread the radius of the perpetual winter if he had taken a step outside of town. Noticing that the frost-littered ground was untouched, Nolan capitalized upon the opportunity granted to him. He extended the range of his magical power to his immediate surroundings, approximately five meters from himself, seeping the magical power within the snow and completely dominating the natural element for his own command. Of course, while this was going to be in another form, it was nevertheless an advantage he required if he wished to swiftly end this battle.
Jiretto followed out in hot pursuit, albeit with a laid back attitude to mask his enthusiasm. With his hands stuffed away into his pockets, he walked over to the opposite side of town, placing himself directly parallel to Nolan. A cold breeze sounded, and Jiretto looked across towards his opponent, noticing he had taken to encompassing a small aura around his being to provide comfort against the cold. He chuckled softly into his sleeve, and stood his ground as Nolan shifted the scenery to his liking --turning his own tools against him. "Water Magic?" He opened his mouth for a frosty exhale, staining the air with his breath. "This can be fun."
Nolan was silent at Jiretto's sarcastic remark. Instead, he focused on his primary object. Raising the water from the ground, Nolan spun it around his being at such incredible speed, creating the centrifugal force necessary to cause some of the water to start evaporating as it managed to near its boiling point, given the pressure Nolan exerted upon it in order for the water to be shaped in his signature spell: the Aqua Ring. Rather than immediately attack the man, however, he waited for a brief period of time, tempering his magical power and keeping his grip on his blade steady.
At that precise moment, Jiretto took similar precautions, setting himself up for success. However, only his magic was not meant to benefit himself, but rather make it more difficult for Nolan to move about; without so much as a reflex from his body, ice began to form at the tips of Jiretto's feet, spreading over a large distance in a rather short period of time and eventually encasing the entirety of the ground in a thick sheet of sleet. Those who were not so experienced in skating on such material would certainly have a hard time adjusting to it, though to Jiretto, it was second nature. The ice moved upward, escalating building complexes and working its way around until everything within the eye's reach was blue from his ice.
There was very little that ever escaped Jiretto's tamed dragon like senses; judging by Nolan's obvious delay in action, Jiretto was almost certain he was not going to make the first move, at least not anytime this year. Even with the potential of the boiling water, Jiretto remained "chill" --he was not the least bit concerned when met by water, no matter how cunning the manipulator. Still yet, it would be he who would have to strike first, and so Jiretto laid out his hand, unveiling his palm to the clouds circling the skies. Laying a fist upon it, he summoned forth a fleet of birds made purely of ice.
The birds, while somewhat realistic in appearance, were clearly made of ice, as evident by their inability to speak out of their own accord. Flying at high speeds towards Nolan, they aimed to penetrate the ensuing sphere of water, serving to test its potency. The ice continued to form across the street, converting all to sleet. It crept slowly from beneath, challenging the oceanic ring Nolan had established.
Nolan could feel the exertion of Magic from Jiretto's position without consciously having to sense it. Noticing that Jiretto attacked from two angles at once, Nolan did nothing more than stand still. Nolan soon sent out a fraction of his Aqua Ring spell towards the floor in front of him after detaching it from the overall spell. The water splashed and rose vertically in a wall-like manner, all according to Nolan shifting his index finger upwards. The sudden interruption in the path of the magic caused it to travel upwards, forcing the freezing to discontinue heading towards Nolan's general direction.
At that moment, Nolan had also managed to shatter a few of the birds as they smashed into the wall, albeit the others had obviously been out of the way of the makeshift wall and were headed towards Nolan's direction. Nolan's blade had shone with a vibrant cherry-blossom shade of pink as he lifted it away from the ground. With almost no effort, Nolan sent out a flurry of slashes with only slight flicks of his wrist, forcing the blade's path to appear as little more than a maelstrom of cherry blossom petals as they continued to evaporate the ice constructs that were sent towards him, until all of them had become a dense cloud of mist.
"Hah!" Was the only sound that emerged from Nolan's position, as a bright white aura dispersed the cloud a significant ways away, additionally cracking the wall and floors of ice around him. Recognizing the nature of Jiretto's abilities, Nolan knew that he had to hamper his overwhelming terrain advantage. "Burn." As soon as the word came out of Nolan's mouth, the blade he held had small embers trail out of its surface in all directions, before suddenly transfiguring into a swarm of bright pink blades that rained onto the ground from all directions — including Jiretto's position — with the intent of evaporating the entirety of the snow littered ground.