The four mages continued to walk up the mountain in search of the menace that terrorized the village and it's people. They still had quite a ways to go. Becoming bored of just walking and scanning, Sakura decided to break the silence due to Ryuunouske and Ray's little silent feud.
"So where are you two from?" Sakura asked attempting to start a conversation. "I'm a former mage of Mermaid Heel."
"I'm kind of a bounty hunter myself, used to go on taking any jobs with Dark Mages, still do from time to time, but I most just work with Ray most of the times" Sonia said looking over to Ray who was still leading the team with his nose. It had been a few hours since their walk so not much had changed other than the sun slowly beginning to set down. "How about you Ryu?"
"I am nothing more than a wandering mage." Ryuunosuke said without changing expression. "My past is none of your concern."
"Ryu-chan, don't act so cold towards them!" Sakura exclaimed. She then walked up next to Sonia."You know what? Ryu-chan used to be a member of the Elite 10 Rune Knights, a group with abilities above SS rank who work for the Magic Council. I don't know why, but he left that group."
"I see, in a way he kind of reminds me of another person I know" Sonia said looking over to Ray who felt her eyes on him, but simply continued to look forward.
"But you know, Ryu-chan isn't completely a bad person." Sakura said as she looked back at Ryuunosuke who had been staying at the back of the group. "He's like this a lot due to a dark past he hasn't even told me about yet. But because of that, he has a huge sense of justice and he's very kind. He just needs some time to be able to show it."
"Same with Ray, he'd kill me if I told anyone this, but he was raised a warrior, for him it was killed or be killed every single day of his life, it was only after he broke free of the past that he began to move forward. The old Ray would've kept fighting until he or Ryu were killed, in a way, the two of them are exactly what they need" Sonia said with a chuckle as both of the men heard them, but decided not to say anything.
"If you two weren't so involved in your conversation and dog nose, you would have noticed that the sun is starting to go down." Ryuunosuke said getting their attention and Ray's annoyance. "Being on a mountain, it'll be dangerous to be continue at night. We'll stop here." He then took his tonfas and smashed a hole large enough for them into the mountain.
"Ryu-chan, you went overboard again." Sakura said with an anime teardrop. Ray and Sonia had the same reaction but they went in nonetheless. Soon they started a fire and ate what food they brought with.
"Hmm, I've been looking over some of the routes, a lot of them are nearly treacherous, but I did find some safe paths for us" Sonia said taking a drink from her cup.
"I think it'd be best if we took..." Sakura began to say.
"It'd be faster if we went up the mountain." Ryuunosuke interrupted. "It's most probable that the enemy is in an area that they can easily defend which would be upward."
"But Ryu-chan, nobody's a superhuman like you, you know!?!" Sakura exclaimed refering to her partner's physical abilities. "I for one can't jump all the way up there."
"Consider the possibility that they have calculated all the risks mutt, we stay smart, not jump off so you can get your fix of battle" Ray said with a snarl, grabbing the map as he looked it over, "The most we can do is take the Okon Trail, it will take a bit longer, but it's a less probable risk than just charging full frontal" He said looking at the others.
"I'd be able to handle myself up there." Ryuunosuke said coldly while eating what looked to be jerky. "I do this type of thing on a normal basis. If I have to resort to it, I'll kill them all. Besides, using your release limit magic, couln't you do the same easily Sakura?"
"But still..." Sakura replied hesitantly
"There's a difference between going full out and fighting with all you got, we don't know what's happening up there, we need to take it step by step" Sonia said as she looked over to Ray who simply cracked his neck.
"I say let the mutt go, if he can't control his own desire, then he'll be a wash out" He replied before leaning against the walls of the cave. Sakura however just looked scared.
"Ryu-chan, don't go up there!" Sakura exclaimed. "You might actually slaughter all of them!" The other two becamed confused, Sakura then scooted to them and explained how all of the dark guilds that Ryuunosuke fought when he was serious were no more and that there were no survivors. He had left them all a bloody mess.
"At this point, nothing the mutt does surprises me, just his lack of control and focus makes me laugh" He said chuckiling as Sonia scoffed and got up.
"Sakura, mind helping me fill up the canteen's? We're gonna need our supplies filled for tomorrow" Sonia asked as Sakura nodded and went following her, only to look back as both Ryu and Ray were simply sitting there and not talking to each other.
"What drives you to fight?" Ryuunosuke asked finally breaking the silence. "You said earlier that my resolve was weak. What makes you think that yours is stronger?"
Ray looked over to him, in his mind he could see himself before he left everything he knew, cold and ruthless to murder easily, but he also knew that there was a sliver of hope inside Ryu. "I was like you once, tortured, beatened, force into things no human should ever go through" He stood up as removed the top of his kimono as it revealed his scarred body, different stab sounds, sword slashes, scars all on him. "My resolve to improve and become stronger through the right is what motivates me, the simple fight for blood doesn't satisfy me anymore" He said looking over to him.
"You are correct and wrong at the same time." Ryuunosuke replied. "Yes, I was tortured, actually, I was a human test subject. That was a painful past but however, you are wrong about me fighting for blood or revenge. I travel to make sure justice is preserved in the lands. I never fight without reason. Do not fear, unless there is no other choice, I won't kill a person."
"The blood I smell says otherwise, there is a difference between justice and murder, in any case this is not the time for selfish decisions, you're not alone" He said glaring over to him as he put his kimono top back on.
"Don't you think I know that?" Ryuunosuke said, his facial expression not changing. "I just told you I don't kill unless there's absolutely no other option. And, I've never thought of myself as alone. Not just because that annoyance Sakura is always clinging to me, but there are many people that I've met that I feel support me in a sense. God, that kid's cheesiness is rubbing off on me."
"Haha, I know how you feel despite your resolve to never show it, you have the resolve, but only through true training and temperment will you be able to fully harness real strength" He said sitting down in a meditation stance as he slowly focused his breath to slow down while listening to the quiet sounds of nature and the flickering fire that was still on.
"Then I still have quite a lot a ways to go before I can call my power strength" Ryuunosuke said. "I can only control 10% of it both physical and magic wise on a normal basis. That's why I seal the rest."
"The power you saw in me when we fought was only but a small glimps, I continously hone my skills to never allow my murderous intent to ever take over me, at least until the day I fully master it" Ray said taking in slow deep breaths as he continued meditaiting.
"It appears we have something in common for once." Ryuunosuke said as he laid back on the cave wall. To their unknowing, Sakura had used her magic to allow her and Sonia to watch their partners.
"Haha, This is really rare to see Ryu-chan like this." Sakura said with a giggle
"I told you, Ray may be hard-headed, but when given the right moment, he can be the best person to make anyone talk about their feelings" She said with a giggle as they both looked at their partner's just sitting quietly waiting for the girls to return.
"What was that?" Sakura with a worried expression.
"What is taking those two so long?" Ryuunosuke said back at the cave with an annoyed tone. "Women can't take so long with everything."
"Hyaaah!" Sakura screamed as she and Sonia ran into the cave. "Ryu-chan, there's some humungous monsters out there."
"Monsters?" Ryuunosuke said as readied himself. "That may be the Slickors, the creatures that live in these mountains. They're basically flying ice snakes. But they shouldn't be this low on the mountain."
"Something's not right, the way they sound, it's sounds more like they're afraid of something, and from what I hear, those beasts are quite strong in their own right" Ray said as the beasts were seen flying down the mountain, away from the top.
"I get the feeling that we're going into something that is gonna be trouble for all of us" Sonia said as she held Sakura who was shaking in fear.
"Sakura, stop being a coward and use your head." Ryuunosuke said tapping his knuckle on her head. "We need a scan on theim so I can determine what to do." Sakura then shook her head and regained her composure.
"Understood." Sakura said as she activated her magic. "They have high levels of adrenaline as if they just got away. Judging on their wingspan, I can conclude that what they were flying away from is 7-8 miles up."
"Now we have to figure out how to get through them." Ryuunosuke said. "There are too many to be able to charge through and also, we're on a mountain. We have to be careful as to not cause an avalanche or fall."
"The best course of action is to wait until they pass, forcing ourselves through them would waste our energy and make us vulnerable there" Ray said as he looked out the cave.
"Then we'll be here all month. They won't migrate for a while" Ryuunosuke replied as he jumped up towards them with his tonfas raised. "Fire Chain!" Large bursts of chains made of flames appeared and attacked the Slickors who responded by blasting their ice breath neutalizing the attack.
"Ryu-chan is trying to do that many at once!?!" Sakura said in surprise.
"Ugh that stupid...." Sonia said with a glare as Ray quickly ran outside of the cave with insane speed, easily jumping right next to Ryu as he quickly channeled his Fire Magic to create a powerful orb of fire as he broke it apart, sending multiple meteor-like flame orbs at all of the beasts he could hit.
"Gotta slow them down." Ryuunosuke said to himself. "Earth Chain!" Using the more solid chains, He attempted to bring the creatures down. However, they broke through it as if it were paper. "Damn it, they're strong!"
"Don't just force your way, see what they're weakness is, and exploit it" Ray said as he looked and studied them, noticing that they couldn't move at quick speeds and turn suddenly without losing control. "Aim at the back of their wings, their manuverability will be shot dead" He told them before using Fire Magic to propell himself high above as some of them began going after him. Ray combined both his Fire Magic and Light Magic, creating a shining like that felt like sunlight as it illumated the sky. He then shot it up into the air in what appeared to be a small meteor size until it broke apart.
The split orb began to shoot down, hitting anything in it's direction as it began hitting the multiple beasts that were all flying, sending them down with ease.
"That'll work." Ryuunosuke said as he dropped down nearby them. "Special technique: Field of Chains!" Several chains came out of the ground and restrained the large beasts."Now it's time I end this! Large Scale Restriction!" Chain markings appeared on the creatures' bodies and soon, they could not move."
"Amazing, Ryu-chan was able to use restrict on that many targets!" Sakura said in awe. "That's never happened before!"
The beasts began falling down one by one as they were moaning and groaning, looking up at the group before shuddering in fear as Ray calmed his magic down. "Looks like we won't have to worry about them, we better get moving if we wanna make it to the path without them attacking us" Ray said as they gathered all their gear and ran towards the next path, making it and beginning their trek towards the mountain top.
However, right when they were in the beginning, Sonia quickly smacked Ryu right in the head, making a comedic bump appear.
"Why'd you do that Sonia-chan?" Sakura asked worriiedly seeing as her partner didn't react to the hit.
"My guess is that it was for my sudden charge." Ryuunosuke said without changing facial expression. "I really was serious though about them not leaving for another month or two."
"We could've found another way, rushing without time to consider all the factors can lead to people getting caught in the way, we're only lucky that no one else was involved" Sonia said huffing as she turned away from them and continued walking.
"Quick thinking is essential in battle." Ryuunosuke said. "Sakura had already mentioned that no people were below us or could have been caught in the middle of it. You must be able to anylyze the situation in an instant."
"In any case, we got pass them, no harm no foul, but we must start learning to communicate. Regardless of quick actions, unless we start working together, things may get bad' Ray told Ryu and Sakura as they looked at each other before looking back to see the back of Ray's head as he was keeping his eyes on the trail.
"What was that?" Sakura asked with worry. Her data Scan magic then alerted her to an incoming danger.
"Move!" Ryuunosuke exclaiimed as an avalanche was above them. They all dived out of the way only missing the avalanche by a couple of centimeters. When it all cleared up Ryuunosuke and Ray found themselves on one side of a giant snow pile while it appeared that the girls were on the other.
"Ryu-chan are you okay?" Sakura asked as her face appeared on a screen in front of Ryuunosuke.
"It seems we're fine. What's the situatation on your side?" Ryuunosuke asked.
"Me and Sonia-chan are on the other side." Sakura replied.
"Hmm, it would take days for us to be able to clear this, even with magic, nearby you is the trail that takes you to our objective, we'll have to find another way to get to the top. Stick together and watch each other's back, we have no clue what is in store for us" Ray said as Sakura and Sonia nodded before the screen disappeared. "We better head to the second trail, just be on the ready" He told Ryu as he began walking with him to the trail.
The Snowy Trek
"Since an avalanche just occured, it may be unstable around here." Ryuunosuke said. "Use this if you fall since we can't use too much magic at the risk of another avalanche." He throws a small package with a button on it to Ray.
"I've been in my fair share of unstable areas, but thanks" Ray said putting it into his kimono before they both reached the cave that lead to the same path up the mountain. "I don't smell or sense any beasts inside, but keep your senses sharp" He said entering along with Ryu into the cave.
"Stay back, I smell metal." Ryuunosuke said cautiously raising his tonfas. A couple of feet away, flashes of red came on and edged closer to the two. About 20 robotic creatures were appearing into the light."Damn it, those are anti magic seals, No magic will work on them. Also they're made of a really strong matierial."
"Then I guess we're doing this the old fashion way" Ray said cracking his knuckles before disappearing, the robots looked to see him running, but saw multiple images as they tried to hit them all. "Word of warning, even you guys can't tell the difference between an illusion and what's real"
The robot quickly looked over to see Ray, only to have him placed both of his fists in one spot before smiling, "Double Magnum: Total Point Strike" The shot could be heard as it reverberated through the robot while Ray simply smiled.
After seeing one of their own destroyed, The others looked at Ray before glowing red for a brief time.
Ray could sense something had changed from them, the robots themselves looked the same, but he knew that the red glowing meant that something was triggered. Wanting to see what, he quickly slammed his foot into the ground, forcing a small chuck of the cave to break off before he kicked it with ease, sending it flying at one of the robots.
The targeted robot got hit and was damaged. The Robots simply did the same as last time where they glowed red. Ryuunosuke then got in front of Ray. "Don't use any more attacks unless we can destroy them all in one shot." Ryuunosuke said. "However, we can't use anything too powerful or we'll be caved in. I may have to do that."
"I might be able to push them towards near cave entrance, but we need to be behind them in order to do it...." Ray began but was stopped when he was pushed back forcefully by Ryu as he growled at his action.
"Step back herbivore." Ryuunosuke said as he focused himself. "15%" He said before dissappearing and then reappearing behind the robots. 1 second later, each of the mechanical beasts shattered into little pieces, not leaving a single one to adapt again. "Restrict" Ryuunosuke said once more before calming down.
"Once again the dog goes rushing in" Ray said with a scoff as he looked back at the pieces, "Let's just go" He said walking with Ryu following.
"Better than whatever you were about to herbivore." Ryuunosuke said. "That would have been too much power and it would of caved us in."
Ray simply scoffed as he continued deeper and deeper into the cave with Ryu walking next to him, when the two saw light, they went towards it and found themselves in what appeared to be some kind of ancient ruins, covered in crystal. "Interesting....they haven't been touched but they still look as new as the day they were constructed" Ray said walking over to one of them as he looked at it. He began to move his hand, but sensed something was wrong as the crystal seemed to begin to vibrate when he simply moved his handl towards it, looking around he noticed a wall that had what appeared to be drawings of sort, also enveloped in crystal, as he went over there to investigate.
The drawings had depictions of what seemed to be some kind of beast with a body made up of crystals, attacking the people as it grew and grew with each new victim.
"Now what could this be?" Ryuunosuke questioned. "There are some hieroglyphs, but they are in a language unknown to me. I'll ask Sakura." He then pulls down a small screen out of thin air and after about a minute, the pinkette's face appeared on the screen.
"Ryu-chan, what's up?" Sakura asked somewhat surprised.
"Try and translate this." Ryuunosuke said as he turned the floating screen towards the walls.
"Hmm, they appear to talk about a disaster that happened about 300 years ago in a kingdom that used to be nearby here. Apparantly, to fend off against a powerful enemy, a powerful beast made of crystal was summoned." Sakura said. "However, the price for keeping it out is that it needed to devour humans. The people who summoned it were able to keep it happy by letting it devour their enemies. But when there were no more enemies for the beast to devour, it turned on them and attacked before being sealed again leaving few survivors who recorded this tragedy on these walls to warn people."
"What about that last part over there?" Ryuunosuke said as he pointed to a blurry looking section of the drawing.
"It appears they also tried to talk about what the beast could do. All I can get from this is that the beast would turn it's victim into crystal before consuming it." Sakura replied. "Also, my scan shows traces of old blood meaning they were killed before they could finish."
Ray could sense a great foreboding from the pictures as his instincts began to pulse, making him tighten his fist as he slowly brought them under control. Release.... Release.... A voice said in his mind, making Ray annoyed as he know who it was, but kept it under control as he took in a deep breath and released it. "Come on, we better keep moving, we need to find some sort of camp ground before night falls, otherwise we'll be walking blind" Ray said cracking his neck before moving along the path with Ryu following.
After dismissing the communication screen, Ryuunsuke continued walking and noticed some differences in Ray's emotional state. "Oy, Herbivore, something's bothering you isn't it? Something that wants you to release it. I can definitely tell it's getting on your nerves." He said to the person in front of him.
"Let's just say... Anything you think you have that is bad, can never compare to what I have inside of me..." Ray said in a serious tone as he looked at Ryu with eyes of foreboding as he turned back and managed to finally relax until the two ended outside once more, only now it was a snowstorm.
He has no idea how wrong he is. Ryuunosuke thought after Ray's statement. "So now what do we do? The snow storm is really thick."
Ray focused his magic to create an orb of sunlight, managing to show a path in front of them, "We need to find cover soon, else we'll fall off the mountain." He said shining through it as they continued walking on the trail, eventually coming to what was shown to be another cave. Apon entering, they found that it was only a few feet into it before there was a rock blocking it. "Damn, well for now, at least we're out of that froze tundra" He said shaking his head as snow fell off.
Ryuunosuke created some fire chains to warm them up as well as get them dry. After a few moments of silence, Ryuunosuke spoke. "After Sakura's analysis, I've been thinking. Most likely, a dark guild will discover the same thing and use it. Maybe one already has. How would we fight off something like that?"
"No idea.. Though I get the feeling we have our answer when we get to the top, though I'm just wondering if the women are alright, they aren't used to this kind of terrain like we are" Ray said looking out into the storm as the two decided to wait it out.
"Ahhh this is nice..." Sonia's voice said from inside a cave as the sight of clothes hanging on a wire to dry led to a small hot spring in the middle of the cave as both girls were wrapped in towls and sitting in the warm soothing waters, "Lucky we found this place, otherwise my fingers would've fallen off" Sonia said with a smile as she stretched her arms up and over her head.
"It feels so nice." Sakura sighed as she sunk into the warm water a little. "I feel bad for the boys not being able to have a warm bath like this. They must still be stuck out there in the cold. Well, At least we know they're able to tough it out."
"Hey, we deserve this, those two always make both of us worry ourselves to death" Sonia said smiling as she splashed some of the water onto her face. "So I've been meaning to ask, how did you get involved with Ryu?"
"He became my knight in shining armor!" Sakura said with a sigh to Sonia's confusion as the pinkette made a screen appear to show the documentation version. "It all happened last year back when I was in Mermaid Heel. I always had men surrounding me asking me out or sometimes even a proposal when I was outside of the guild hall. I always felt uncomfortable in that situation even after going through it for 2 years. Then, one day as the guys were trying to hit on me as usual, Ryu-chan came and defended me from them! And for once, a guy hadn't tried to flirt with me like a playboy. I immediately fell in love with him and I've been traveling with him ever since."
'What really happened, according to the Documentation...
Sakura-chan, go out with me! The many men said as they surrounded the pinkette repeatedly asking her out even after she repeatedly rejects them.
What an annoying bunch. I hate crowds that block my way.' Ryunosuke said as he finished beating up the last of the men. "Hey pink hair, try not to draw too big of a crowd, it'll be a pain'
"Kyaah! Ryu-chan is so cool and handsome!" Sakura exclaimed with a dreamy look on her face.
I should really tell her what happened, but I think Ryu will actually fall for her sooner than he thinks Sonia thought in her mind as she sweatdropped comedically. "That is one interesting story, though I honestly didn't expect you to have like a file" She said chuckiling awkwardly as she sank deeper into the spring.
"Part of my magic allows me to record history in the form of a video as long as I was directly part of that event in some way." Sakura explained. "In a sense, it allows me to relive parts of my life."
"Seems like quite the useful magic" Sonia said stretching her legs upward and sinking it back into the water.
"It's helped us out in a lot of our detective cases." Sakura said. "Also, I have another magic that could have let me jump all the way to the top of the mountain from the base. It's my limit release magic. Anyway, since you've asked me how I met Ryu-chan, how did you meet Ray?"
"Well I don't have your magic so sorry if it's a little boring" She said as they both chuckled before laying back, "I was a bounty hunter before, often taking any job I could get in order to get what I needed. Well I found this group that needed help capturing a guy, told me that he was dangerous and needed to be kept under control, so I took it. When we met, Ray did a pretty good number on me, but I could sense that he wasn't the kind of person they told me about, so I never turned him in. We've been partners since then" She said looking over to her blade against the wall.
"Do you have any feelings for him?" Sakura said with a mischivous smile on her face
"Haha, if you would've asked me that a few years ago, I'd smack you upside the head" She said looking over to Sakura before looking up to the celing. "Yes... I mean he has something inside of him, wanting to come out and beat everyone to death, but he also has a human side to him. He's rough on the outside, but inside, he's a good person" Sonia said blushing as she splashed her face more wth water.
Sakura could notice the blush and just smiled. "That makes two of them. Ryu-chan doesn't like socializing with others for a similar reason. He's a good person and because of that he envelops that social shell around him to protect people from himself. He actually said that to me when I said I wanted to travel with him."
"Yeah, we have troubling guy's with us" Sonia said as she looked out to find that the storm had passed, "Aww, look's like relaxation is over" She said getting up as she went over to another part of the cave to get dressed.
"Well, somebody has to keep watch over them." Sakura said with a giggle as she followed after Sonia.
"True enough, though I'm sure those two probably had it better than we did" Sonia said coming out wearing her attire along with a coat over it.
"Well, we all have our ups and downs in life." Sakura replied as she put on her own clothes. "By the way, what do you think of the clue Ryu-chan and Ray found?"
"I don't know... To be honest, I don't know if what we're on is even a mountain" Sonia said looking at the ground as she picked up a small chunk of rock.
"According to my scans, it still has the same elements of a normal mountain but I agree with you on your suspicions." Sakura replied looking at her screen.
"It's a shame to leave this small paradise, but we better head up to the rest of the mountain trail, especially if we wanna beat the boys there" Sonia said as she grabbed her sword and began to walk with Sakura by her side as they continued on the trail.
"Let's get going!" Sakura excitedly as she began tugging Sonia behind her. "I want to see Ryu-chan soon!"
"Haha, alright come on, let's head up the mountain" Sonia said as the two began their long walk towards the mountain's, unaware of the dangers that lay ahead.
Last Chapter: Ancient Curse: Demon Tomb