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This article, Talons of War, is property of DazzlingEmerald.

This article, Talons of War, is property of HoloArc.

This article, Talons of War, is property of Highestbounty123.

Upon a hurdle they rise; upon a cradle do they kiss; and upon a blanket of hopes and dreams do they lay. It was through a hierarchy of petty imitators that they had arrived, into the torn abyss to once more commend the brutality of war; the very thought of which was quite familiar to them, bringing them ease and comfort when the others would have only dreaded terror. Ambient were they, in their desires to conquer one another —for this was how the Dragons greeted one another to begin with, and who better to fulfill each of their legacies than their very own children?

The time for one final clash had come at long last, with the title of none other than King on the line. What would befall them next? They knew not. What they did have knowledge of, however, suddenly no longer pertained to them. All that mattered now was victory, anything less would be perceived as failure.

The journey to the peak continues.

Talons of War

In fear does the sky trifle above the clouds, coursing its existence in shame and dishonor. Yet it will never acknowledge such feelings, for it believes it self to be superior —however arrogant it may be— even among the most patent of indications. For this reason does it ascend beyond those very same clouds, all for the sole purpose of appearing triumphant, as that much is enough to fulfill the emptiness within its heart. To the gods does it beckon, speaking ill of that which lies below; it makes a mockery of the trees, the waters, the mountains, when clearly, they are made to serve functions beyond its own.

The sky which denies skill, clinging to smug aspirations of fame, oh how Jiretto Ekuseru despised such a scoundrel. It was no different than the clowns who spoke ill behind one's back, so swift were they in their celebration! Yet what had they truly accomplished? Was it not he who had garnered the right to flicker his tail about? Was it not he who had proven himself battle upon battle? Even still did he not speak; even still did he not commend his efforts, for he cared little for renown. He was not one to underestimate his opponents, nor was he one to quite suddenly foresee himself as being above them. Fools who bathed in ignorance would not be awarded his pardon.

Serene was he, standing at the core of a ghost town flustered with primitive scrapers. Quite evidently, they were the remains of a previous battle; they had already etched their role in history akin to ancient artifacts, though now they would persist once more for another. For once had the blue-haired man kept his eyes open, in anticipation of not a single enemy, but rather, a sweet couple, this time around. Those that had suddenly sought to prove themselves against him, when in truth, their prerogatives should have lied within the greater goods.

"Suuup'?" Razia Sultana, a rather well-endowed woman with seventh swords sheathed on her, casually greeted Jiretto, standing a fair distance away "So...blue hair. Interesting." Razia said, examining Jiretto's hair. Maybe he uses some kind of colouring to make it so blue...maybe that's why there's a weird rise in abnormal hair colors the last few years. "Ah, don't we got 'nother fella to come by?" She was probably a bit too casual about the situation.

"So... You are to be my competition." Came the posh voice of Carwen Khapree, making her way towards them, a slight limp to her otherwise gracious walk. She stopped her movements when she was a fair distance away from the other two. She turned her gaze towards Razia. "You don't look like much. Though to be fair, neither did my first opponent and she proved to be quite skilled. As did my second one." She then spared a look at Jiretto. "I hope the two of you will live up to my expectations."

Without even waiting for the words to leave Carwen's mouth did the Blizzard Wizard make his move. Evidently, his two opponents had not taken precautions —they had cared far too much for their own entrances, and on top of that, had even made the mistake of attempting conversation with him. There had been no fluctuation of magical energies, no collection of even so much as a stance; without preparation, there was no hope for a counterattack. Immediately had the temperatures about the ghost town plummeted, so far gone that no shield of magical aura could have even hoped to protect them from the harsh weather. As he drew his plan into action, Jiretto caressed himself along the stubble of his face, his body illuminated by a verdant energy.

The frigid temperatures had leaked through the pores of his feet and pierced through the ground, without leaving a hint of visible altercations. The water residing beneath was instantaneously frozen, bringing upon a vigorous earthquake that shook the ancient city, a sensation referred to as cryoseism. This had been done with the intention of throwing the two girls off balance; they would have found that it had become increasingly difficult to navigate through the sudden quake, much less see clearly, due to the sheer magnitude of just how much the world about them was shaking.

With his opponents likely feeling the effects of his preliminary scheme, Jiretto sought to seize control of the circumstance and take matters to his own advantage. Standing his ground throughout the course of the quiver, he curled his hands into rigid fists at the sides of his waist and clasped open the doors of his mouth, unveiling the refined set of fangs with which he was baptized. Very swiftly had he begun his intake of the surrounding air, devouring the very essential principles of the atmosphere like a vacuum. Much to his joy, the ancient civilization in which they currently resided had been free of the pollution foreseen in modern times. His body was empowered with each passing second; not only by the literal air he was consuming, but even further beyond, due to presence of the water vapor that existed within it, thereby granting Jiretto the nutrients of both of his elements, thereby multiplying the effects it had on his body to an entirely separate degree.

The lungs of a Dragon were the perfect contribution for storing the mass of power Jiretto was currently in the midst of conceiving. Quick were they in their distribution of power throughout the rest of his body, preventing him from bursting like a balloon due to an over abundance of energy. However yet, this was all merely conventional, as his true intentions lay not within the equity of of power; no, he had far too much of that to begin with! It was nestled instead within the fact that as the air exited the current vicinity of what was the battlefield, so too along with it left the squeals of existence, otherwise renown as oxygen.

Very valuable was oxygen to the functions of the planet, for without it, clearly a specimen shall cease to exist. With fewer particles within the atmosphere to scatter about the phenomenon of blue light, the sky would have been darkened considerably, interlacing the day time with that of the night. The buildings of the deserted city would have been vaporized into nothing more than dust with the absence of oxygen, the very element that served as a foundation to their likeliness as concrete structures, and now the battlefield would have been nothing more than a barren wasteland. Without oxygen, the inner ear would have been unable to so much as even withstand the grueling air pressure, literally detonating within the bodies of the two girls before the fortunes of suffocation could have even befallen upon them.

Alongside the vast series of events was the unfortunate correlation of the realm with Jiretto's own arsenal of magic; yes, with no more oxygen, the world would have grown incomprehensibly cold, to the point of which those without his abilities would have been unable to move their bodies freely, a direct principle of hypothermia. So unbearable would have been the temperature, as limbs of the human body would wither away and some even break off entirely, rendering the likes of frostbite nothing less than a dream.

At the moment the ground shook, Razia immediately reacted, pulling out her sword from its sheathe, and stabbing the ground, in order to maintain balance, much like how an elderly uses a cain. Only of metal and dangerous. Activating her Slowing Eye, Razia caused her perception of time to lower to a considerable degree, only her thoughts remained in normal motion. Having known she would be fighting two foes, she prepared the spell ahead of time to cast in a moment's notice. "Alright, alright, Let's analyze this. Ground's breaking and he's...standing. This can't be right." Razia prepared her body, and deactivated Slowing Eye, pulling out her sword, and kicking the ground, leaping a fair distance away "Either he's arrogant or planning something!" Stomping her foot on the ground, Razia began projecting a magical mirror directly behind her, as she breathed in, beginning to gather flames in her stomach and lungs, condensing and converting them to pure, red thermal energy, preparing to unleash her Heat Lance spell, a direct beam of nothing but pure heat.

Caught in the middle of her speech, Carwen was not as quick as she could have been to react when the ground itself started quaking with such intensity. Without a battle stance and without proper preparation, Carwen lost her balance and fell to the ground. Not much of a talker, huh? How rude. But now that she was sprawled out on the ground, she layed relatively still.

She summoned forth a propulsor that shot her up into the air. In midair she stabalized herself, with the aid of a few more from her hands and feet. Once she was stable she took a look towards her opponents once more and ran the situation through her head. Plummeting temperatures. Either sky or ice for an element. Her gaze then caught the image of Jiretto with a gaping mouth. Looking utterly ridiculous, Carwen made the obvious assumption as to why he would do that. And she did not intend on letting his schemes continue. Carwen started to channel the "divine light" around her own body and into her stomach. Around her body, a draconic shape took form and suddenly the cold no longer bothered her. However, she was not finished yet. "Divine Dragon's Roar!" she cried out as she unleashed the beam of light towards Jiretto at blinding speeds in hopes of interrupting his feast.

With the lack of air finally corresponding to the buildings in the distance, they had begun to wither away, most of them already having been devoured about half way. This was an indication as to how much Jiretto himself had consumed, and now his body was surely feeling the otherworldly effects. Through his empowerment had Jiretto kept his senses alert; perhaps they had even reached the next level due to his consumption of his elements. Even so, the projection of a blast coming forth his way from Carwen was quite frustrating, in that, while his newly acquired speed would undoubtedly allow him to react accordingly, it would, unfortunately, create a window of opportunity for the mirror-wielding Razia to charge her spell, almost as if the two were working together. On top of that, they had been seemingly unaffected by the sudden drop in temperature —this may not end up to be as easy as Jiretto had hoped.

Carwen's roar came toward Jiretto at blinding speeds. It was fairly obvious what the dark haired woman had planned to do, and Jiretto would have simply been playing into her hands if he had went out of his way to evade the blast. As it now arrived before him, a wall of ice suddenly sprang up through the ground below; it was fairly thick, however retained an illicit surface, and while it looked as though the roar would have initially been nullified, something entirely separate occurred. The light bounced off the ice-wall as if it were a mirror, and was now following a quicker path back toward Carwen.

Indeed, Razia's intervention had actually allowed Jiretto to devise a counterattack of his own within mere moments. The wall had been constructed from the very ice Jiretto had weaved before; that which had been frozen beneath the ground, that which had orchestrated the cryoseism, which had now come to an end. Acting now with a shield lain out before him, Jiretto continued to drain the oxygen out of the atmosphere, causing those very same buildings that had survived the first interval to once more begin their descent to the ground level. Coincidentally, the skies had begun to darken, perhaps as a designation of how far Jiretto's "attack" had spread; it may have even possibly been attained sooner, had Jiretto not been forced into summoning that wall before him in the first place, which had evidently interrupted him, thus slowly down the process.

Had they not yet come to realize it by the decay of the scrapers and the looming of the night, Jiretto was indeed devouring the very atmosphere in which the each of them resided, and if he were not stopped anytime soon, the two of them may have been facing severe consequences. Through the mirror before him did Jiretto see his own reflection, his ears twitching with excitement, his nose frolicking with anticipation. Attacking from a distance had proven futile due to presence of ice beneath the ground; how would his opponents elect to attack him next? Much of Jiretto's attention had been diverted to Razia momentarily, in preparation of her upcoming assault.

A grin flashed on Razia's mouth, as she stomped on the ground, at that moment, seven mirrors projected. Four were around Jiretto himself, a fair distance, not too close or too far, while a fifth one was directly above him. Another mirror appeared infront of her, and another behind her. "Heat! Lance!" Firing her beam of red thermal energy through the mirror, she allowed the power of the beam to propel her back, sending her through the mirror directly behind her. The beam passed through the mirror, and split into the five mirrors surrounding Jiretto, their power now halved, and Razia exited from an eighth mirror, one that was up high, a fair distance away.

The moment Razia exited the mirror, she clapped her hands, creating a blade of raw magic power with the power of Blade Blacksmith. She pointed the blade at the mirror, thrusting it forth, as the blade extended, going through the mirror. Immediately after the five Heat Lances shoot through the mirrors, five blades of magic power will follow, with the sole intent of overwhelming Jiretto.

Carwen was not quick enough to catch up to that her spell had been reflected. Not even attempting to avoid it, Carwen took the roar head on, taking the blast straight to the chest. She was knocked back, out of the air and crashed down on the ground. Quickly shaking it off she then proceeded to open up her jacket and shirt to reveal the Stigmata that had formed on her skin. She took her nails and dug into her skin, scratching the stigmata away, as well as drawing some minimal amounts of blood.

Carwen looked up and assessed the situation. Ice AND Air. This could get dangerous very fast. She shoot herself up into the air once more and spread her legs wide. Ancestors Ballista. An arc and string of light formed between her legs together with a bolt of hardened light. She grabbed hold of the bolt with her teeth, pulling it back and making herself ready to fire towards Razia. But then she caught sight of Razia making her way towards Jiretto with her own attack.

Although she hated the thought of "teaming up" with a lesser Dragon Slayer, she could not deny that this was seemingly a perfect moment to strike and cease his feast. So she took aim towards Jiretto and fired.

With his ears did Jiretto "see" Razia's foot stomp against the ground; the last time the girl had done so, it had resulted in a mirror. That much left Jiretto with an idea —at the very least— of what he was to expect next. As he had anticipated, Razia had once more summoned forth a mirror, or rather, several of them. What she had forgotten, however, was that Jiretto had crafted a "mirror" of his own in the form of an ice-wall to reflect Carwen's last attack. This ice-wall was still there, sitting in-between one of the mirrors and Jiretto.

Closing his mouth, Jiretto released a fragment of his magical energy out into the distance, causing the ground around him to be flustered by frost. Along with the ground, the mirrors Razia had created were also effected by his aura; they were now covered in a thin layer of ice, and while this was not nearly enough to prevent Razia's attack from going through them, it would be enough for the attack to be delayed, even if only by an additional second, as the attack itself now had a layer of ice to fight through.

On cue, the mirrors began to rumble, as the layer of ice fought back the incoming heat attack. Taking advantage of the situation, Jiretto stormed forth, ripping the ice-wall in front of him from the ground and using it as a shield as he approached the mirror that had been spawned in the front; it was at this moment that the power of the heat lance broke through the thin layer of frost. However, because Jiretto was no longer in the location Razia had intended for him to be, the blasts from each mirror collided against one another, canceling themselves out. The same unfortunate event befell the blades that followed through the mirrors afterwards.

However, one mirror was exempt from the preliminary stage of Jiretto's scheme. Because it had been crafted behind his own wall, Jiretto had been unable to cover that one mirror in ice, and that was the mirror he was now racing toward. The heat lance, weakened upon being distributed through the other mirrors, was even further weakened by the presence of the cold, a result of the oxygen around Jiretto having already been consumed. This rendered the heat lance weak enough to be dispelled by the ice-wall that was moving ahead of Jiretto himself.

Acting quickly, Jiretto fumbled the shield beneath his feet, turning it into a makeshift sled that carried him forward —oddly, he was not affected by motion sickness, perhaps because the sled was of his own creation, or perhaps because within the moment, he hadn't enough time to consider it a means of transportation. Bending down on one knee, Jiretto "heard" with his nose that in the distance, Carwen had once more shot up into the sky. It was just then that the blade shot through the mirror in front of Jiretto; with his senses and reflexes amplified to unprecedented heights due to the sheer amount of air and water he had consumed earlier, the sly Dragon actually caught the blade with his left hand, stopping it mere inches before it could have pierced through his forehead.

Very swiftly, he plunged the blade into the ground and used it as a means of support in order to swing his body to one side; now airborne, with the front part of his body facing the ground, he adjusted his feet to either side of the sled, grasping ahold of it, and then immediately flipped around in midair, so that the front part of his body was now facing the sky instead. Kicking his knees to his stomach, he fell back onto the ground hard, lugging the sled in front of him by allowing it to rest over his ankles.

Instantly afterward, Carwen's Ballista collided with the sled, ensuing a struggle between the "divine light" and Jiretto. Gritting his teeth, Jiretto braced for impact as a large crater formed beneath him, plunging him even further into the ground. However, the mirror-esque properties of the sled ultimately allowed Jiretto to once more defeat the attack —when coupled with the fact that he had exerted tremendous force in order to do so— sending a much weaker variant sailing back toward Carwen, one of which she would have been able to simply evade this time around with little to no difficulty.

Pulling himself up with the grip he had over the blade that had been dug into the ground beside him, Jiretto inspected the stigmata that had been left plastered across his shield. It was a brilliant spell nonetheless; had he not eaten beforehand, there was little chance he would have been able to match its speed. But what had caught his attention more than anything was the mark it had left behind on the sled.

Most certainly, it would be very dangerous to have one of these marks be left over his own body. He stood to his feet at last, parting a glare toward his opponents. From the rear end, a tear in his clothing along his spine was evident, likely from him having been scraped against the ground so hard. Still, they had teamed-up on him, and now it was time to get even.

Twice was it now, that he had managed to somehow counter their long range attacks —even if the second time around wasn't so pretty. He no longer planned to eat any more of the atmosphere; no, the amount he had already acquired was more than sufficient. It greatly increased his powers, while leaving the battlefield tarnished and slow to recover. Most of the buildings in the city had already been reduced to piles of dust; he had successfully transferred the site into his domain, while also being able to scout out their techniques.

Speaking of which, the mirrors were quite exquisite as well. Turning his shoulder, Jiretto eyed the mirror that was beside him, before quickly freezing it solid. With one swing of the blade, he forced the ice to shatter into several thousands of pieces, causing the mirror to disappear along with it. Afterwards, he tossed his shield and blade aside.

Now they would be forced to return to him, where the air was little, for close quarters combat. The verdant green aura from earlier returned around him, framing his body like an additional layer of clothing, as he took to his fighting stance. His senses were as sharp as ever, possibly even more so now than ever before. He closely anticipated each of their movements; what was to come next? More long range attacks that could be bounced back due to the properties of light? More mirrors that he would undoubtedly see coming this time? Jiretto exhaled a chilled wallop of air. Instinctively, his body temperature began to lower itself.

Razia landed after being propelled from her second mirror, spread her legs and arms to land on the ground on all four, catching her breath. Weirdly, she was sweating, which was unlike her. Her breathing was even heavier, as if she was already getting exhausted "What the hell...?" Even talking was quite a chore. Quickly rising up, she ignited her flames. Or tried to, as only a measly spark flew before the flames dissipated "What?! My fire is...!" It then hit her, the entire time Jiretto had his mouth open, as if drawing to swallow something. It was the air. "Sly motherfucker!" Razia grinned, it was a grin of anticipation and excitement "I guess that explains why it fucking hurts to breathe...Fine." Razia extends her hands, noticeably opening a space inbetween her fingers, as her magic power manifested as six sharp prongs, raw blades of magic power, no guard or hilt, just blades. Suddenly though, she collapses on her knee, she truly struggled to breathe, working herself too hard in her maneuvers, working up a sweat, and the lack of air didn't help "Ugh...!".

Using the magical blades on her left hand, she forced herself back on her feet "Drive...!" Activating her Fire Drive, Razia upped her physical parameters, boosting her power, allowing her to stand. Even if her Drive was worthless without her fire being accessible, the use of its boost to her physical abilities was more than enough. "Blue...booooyyyy...!!!" Razia placed each hand under the opposite side of her waists, charging up her magic power, and activating her Slowing Eye "Let's see how you oversized knives thrown all up in your grill!" In what felt and looked like over a minute for Razia, was but five seconds in reality. In a moment's notice, she swiped her arms, throwing the six magic energy blades at Jiretto, followed immediately by her creating a new collection of six blades, cocking her arms back, and swiping forth, sending these as well. She would begin repeating the process, and with her slowing eye, would take notice of anything that may come her way should she need to dodge any oncoming attacks. Even then, she was essentially forcing herself to move, with her Fire Drive keeping her body moving.

Carwen watched with pure unadulterated fury as one of her most powerful spells did little to nothing against her opponent. Not only that, but once more, he had the gall to try and use her own magic against her. As the ballista bolt was sailing back towards her at greatly reduced speeds, Carwen "sidestepped" the bolt and grabbed hold of it.

She flied slightly higher up and forward until she was straight above Jiretto so that he was in plain view for her. With a propulsion boost she sent the bolt flying once more. While most of the power no longer existed within the bolt, if she was able to place at least one stigmata on her target, she would be satisfied.

As the bolt was hurtling down again, she turned her attention to the Razia woman again. In Carwen's mind, their little "cooperation " to take care of the man had gone on long enough. Advantages be damned. Fairness for the win. Carwen then used her propulsion to send herself hurtling towards Razia, her fist cocked back and ready for a punch, radiating a crackling blue glow. "Divine Dragon's Iron Fist!"

There had simply been no versatility to the match thus far, no real… flavor. It was all incredibly redundant; Jiretto's opponents had repeated the very same maneuvers over and over again, and for what purpose? No matter the difference in speed and power, the execution would always be the same! It made little difference —if any at all— and to say the least, he had grown a bit bored of the back and forth sequences.

From the sky, and for the third straight time, came another light oriented attack from Carwen; however this time, it was literally the same blast, and though it had been renewed with a new force of speed, its power had been shaved tremendously due to its earlier collision with Jiretto's sled. Each and every time he had been presented by an attack, Jiretto had analyzed it thoroughly; he knew of the stigmata and he knew of their properties. Spamming light attacks in his direction had accomplished absolutely nothing, there had been no progress. So then, why? Why was it that Carwen was so fixated on using the same attack?

As the blast of light came racing down toward him, Jiretto diverted his attention to the all-too-familiar onslaught that greeted him from the north: a flurry of blades, as if he hadn't just seen that mere moments earlier. Thankfully, he did not need to waste his time reflecting the light attack for a third time, as it was intercepted by a single blade, resulting in a small detonation that threw the other blades off course as well, ultimately leaving Jiretto's frame concealed behind a thick layer of smoke. It was quite humorous in a sense, that without even having to move so much as a finger, Jiretto had somehow managed to devise another plan, using his opponent's attacks to his own benefit.

However, it was not all over. In what appeared to be a fit of anger, Razia had engaged herself into a relentless struggle, comprised of heaving more and more swords in his direction. Why?—he didn't know, but it really didn't matter either. With her aim momentarily thrown off by the presence of the smoke — even with her slowing eye, as really, the smoke was somewhat of a counter to it, in that it really masked his being altogether— Jiretto skillfully evaded the incoming projectiles by moving to a side of the smoke where the projectiles had not been aimed.

Leaping upward through the cloud of smoke, he saw Carwen racing toward Razia —this opened a window of opportunity for himself. By now, the two girls would have undoubtedly begun to feel the effects his earlier move; by devouring the atmosphere, he had taken along whatever oxygen resided within it. With the girls having been within the vicinity of such a danger, they would not have been spared. Now, with the two likely being at their limits as to how much air they had left —or at the very least, the two would find themselves beginning to struggle with their breath, if not beginning the suffocation process altogether— Jiretto sought to attack them on his own, at long last.

Storming forth, he appeared at their flank, making use of the benefits he had acquired from eating the air and water within the atmosphere to amplify his speed to unprecedented levels. His body still cloaked within a verdant green aura, he timed his counterattack perfectly —while Carwen was set to clash with Razia, and while Razia was distracted between the obstacle of heaving swords relentlessly and countering Carwen— Jiretto sought to grasp the two of them behind their heads, and then smash them into one another. They would find that, the moment he had so much as arrived within their presence, it had grown unbearably cold, due to him having lowered his own body temperatures. That, coupled with the lack of oxygen would have more than likely accounted toward Jiretto's favor; most nearly meaning, this sly attack of his own would make contact.

The moment the detonation occured, and the smoke rose, Razia planned to stop. Razia took the time to analyze, while still percieving the world in its slow pace. Looking around as she landed on her feet, she noticed Carwen coming her way, what was riveting is that she was rather fast, even with the slowed down perception of time. Stabbing the ground with her blades, she loaded them with magic power, as a form of timer before they would beginning uncontrollably expanding, growing extra sets of blades from the original single blade, growing in such like vines or a tree. Beneath her feet, she began forming a mirror, with another one being above her. She planned something simple, dodge Carwen's attack by travelling through the mirror, and appear above her.

However, the effect of the oxygen deprivation did kick in, causing her to cough up blood. The slowed down perception of time made her taste her blood for a time that would be the equivlant of a minute, making the taste long lasting, and yet, she continued forcing herself. Even when collapsing on her knees. Her best escape for now is to travel through the mirror, the instant it opens, she'll slip right down through thanks to the gravity pulling her down.

Establishing a firm grasp about the heads of both of his opponents, Jiretto proceeded into thwarting the two women one another; the heavy collision brought both of their identities together --perhaps a bit too close for comfort-- with vigorous force. However, this was not what Jiretto was truly attempting to accomplish; while dealing damage was fortunate, his true intentions lied within the sole factor of scathing his opponents. Indeed, Jiretto's body had been cloaked within a green aura --this was none other than an indication of him using a spell, that which happened to be none other than the one known as Reglia.

Much like in his last bout against Ash Sangira, Jiretto had utilized a form of deception to trigger it; while it was blatantly obvious, for whatever reason, it had gone unnoticed by his two opponents. Having made successful contact with the girls, the each of them would be heavily crippled, to the point of no avail. Their reaction timing was now comparable to an aged tortoise; their defenses were as thin as fabric; their own powers would do them no good. Because this effect kicked in even prior to the collision, there was a great chance that the double headbutt would knock the two out cold, especially because the damage was being dealt so close to their brains, not to mention the application of his own enhanced abilities compared to the girls' crippled status.

The mirror beneath Razia was complete, and she began to slip through it, the natural cause of gravity pulling her down after her head collided with Carwen's. As she did, she felt the pain of her skull fracture emit throughout her body, from the top of her head to the tip of her toes. However, before she would allow herself to lose consciousness, Razia openned her mouth, biting into her arm with her canine teeth, the second wave of pain keeping her awake. Her teeth sunk into her flesh, causing her to bleed, but it was enough to keep her from losing consciousness. Razia emerged from the other mirror, the one she set up above, beginning to fall above the two other contestants, yet even with her teeth still sunken into her arm, the oxygen deprivation still made her vision go blurry, her body movement feel stiff. She would soon lose.

"Gah...!" Pulling her teeth out of her arm, Razia looked down, very much plummeting down to her opponents. "Urgh..." She grunted, failing to ignite her flames once more, yet using whatever ounce of consciousness she had left, she caused liquified metal to spread from her skin, beginning to cover her. Hopefully it would serve as some kind of shield, and even without the fire to support it, the metal would slowly be held together and hardened the further she falls down.

As Carwen felt the great man's hand close around the back of her skull she was about to take immediate action against Jiretto but as she tried to counter attack, she felt how her body was by far slower and weaker and not moments later did she feel the impact of Razia's skull against her own. Carwen could feel the immense pain surge through her body, setting all her nerves ablaze. All she wanted to do was scream, but she proved unable to do even that. She felt the world darkening, fading away as she slowly lost her consciousness.

In her last conscious moments, as her mind was slipping away, she was struck with overwhelming feelings. Feelings of anger, disgust, hatred but most of all, disappointment and selfloathing. She had failed. She was not strong enough. She had disappointed her ancestors. I'm not worthy... Damn it all... was her final thoughts before she fell limp in Jiretto's firm grasp.

The sound of Razia's falling body pierced the skies, of which Jiretto took note. Redefining the grasp he had over Carwen in one hand, he created space in his other to break Razia's descent, before clutching the back of her shirt as she came down beside his flank, thereupon rescuing her from a certain demise. The metallic cocoon she had desired to construct at the very last instance resulted in a failure, for it was overpowered by Jiretto's magical aura and Razia's own lack thereof, following the exertion of the former's previous spell.

His elbows darting toward either side, Jiretto stood about for several seconds, cradling the two fallen girls within his hold—watching with moderation as they slept soundly. His gaze drifted to the innumerable wounds they had suffered throughout the course of the battle; it had been one to remember, without a doubt. It was at this instance that the oxygen within the atmosphere was born anew, abiding to his command, of course.

Even still did the two sleeping beauties lay dormant within their slumber. Molding for them a bed made of thin ice—one which, on the contrary, was quite pleasant, given their battered conditions— he triumphed with haste into tending to their injuries, doing so with the aid of his Sky Dragon Slayer Magic. Thereupon he allowed them with ample time to rest, to traverse farther into the dreams that which encompassed their beings.

With a chilled breath escaping his mouth, he made off into the distance—the only "words" he had spoken during the course of the entire encounter.

Fin

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