“I still think this is a horrible idea,” Erie reiterated for all those present around her.
Following Knave’s sudden acceptance of the rich client’s job offer, the group had begun moving at a speed which, to be frank, surprised even those who were a part of it. In what seemed like no time they had completed the hour-long trek to a large hill that overlooked the green-less and pockmarked landscape that led up to the guild they were targeting. Now, they were simply waiting on the top of the hill, observing the massive ramshackle castle and waiting for any potential activity... as well as the return of a certain ‘informant’ they had unleashed upon the grounds a mere fifteen minutes earlier.
“Aww, c’mon!” Knave said happily, leaning back on a small upcropping of dirt and kicking his feet futilely in the air, as if hoping to actually land on something but without much success, “it should be fun, right?”
“Taking on an entire guild with only 3-” Erie started.
“Four,” Gopher quickly jumped in, oddly lifting up two fingers to symbolize the actuality of four being there.
“Four, then,” Erie sighed, “Taking on AN ENTIRE GUILD with only FOUR people is not exactly my idea of fun.”
“Well, different strokes I guess,” Duncan groaned from where he had rolled up in the corner, in the hopes of getting a few milliseconds of sleep.
“THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE!” Erie shot back, delivering a kick to the back of the barfighter’s head.
“Your raven sure is taking a long time, Erie,” Gopher yawned, staring up into the sky with a bored expression on his face, “I thought they were supposed to be good at finding out stuff.”
“It should actually be back about... now, I suppose,” Erie finished as a black shape quickly became outlined against the sun, and flew down at an incredible speed, though still landing lightly on her shoulder. It was quickly revealed to be a somewhat large, stylized raven with the standard faint purple glow around its entire being. It made a small chirping noise, pecking slightly at Erie’s ear, but was held back by its own creator’s hand. “I’ve got it, I've got it,” she said in a placating sort of tone, before placing her hand on the bird’s forehead. Almost immediately the magical raven seemed to dissolve, slipping quietly back into Erie’s hand.
The black-haired female mage closed her eyes slightly, as a series of images flashed from the magical power contained in the raven directly into her mind, allowing her to see events as if she had actually been there and not the aviary puppet of sorts that she had conjured up. Digesting all of the information, she opened her eyes once more. Without another word she seized a small stylus that the group had brought along and began scrawling directly into the dirt, being thankful that it was still enough to allow such writing to be quickly read. As she continued to sketch, she slowly but surely began incorporating narration into their diagram, explaining it in further detail for the other people present.
“Okay,” she said, “the guild’s basically set up like one of those child’s playground contraptions. It’s all connected by a variety of badly constructed, tube-shaped tunnels, and the rooms appear to be in no honest order. It’s not all finished, and it goes down quite a way. The further underground the rooms go the more earthen the walls and floors become, so that should act as a point of reference if we get lost. The guild master’s room is located at the very back of the guild, and there are several paths that lead directly to him. A few of them have extra branches that lead to other rooms, however, so I’d be careful of those.”
“How’re we supposed to know where to go in the first place?” Knave asked, having gotten up from his old position, and was now crouching down across from Erie in order to get a better look at the diagram she was constructing.
“While it appears that there’s no basic order, a large amount of the guild members all followed certain paths, like they were habits or they were just plain predestined to go there, like they had jobs or something similar,” Erie answered, “my raven managed to go through the most common paths, and thankfully three of them were the ones leading towards the Guild Master. Besides that, we also know the locations of the kitchen, the place where they acquire their jobs, the weapon stores, a few emergency escape passages, the living quarters, some rooms that appear to have no function, and potentially the lavatories. I’m putting them all on, so do your best to memorize all this, okay?”
She took a step back, finishing her construction. She had drawn a semi-well made diagram of the entire castle, with a special focus on the various pathways, as they had the most detail. They each led to simple squares that were labeled with the names of the rooms, though some were only marked with a series of question marks, obviously the rooms with no discernable purpose. Around the entire drawing was an outline of the guild’s overall shape, in order to provide perspective on the site where they were to battle.
Erie’s fellow mages (and one cat) spent a good few moments staring and analyzing the map, taking it all in and hopefully memorizing the various parts and aspects of it. After this, Duncan looked up to face the group once more as a whole. “So,” he said, “what’s the plan?”
“Well,” Erie replied, “it’s obvious that we’ll want to take out the Guild Master. Without a leader any sort of organized resistance will probably fall apart. But he’ll probably have a variety of second-in-commands, so we’ll need to take those out simultaneously.” She looked up at everyone as well. “Basically, take out anyone who looks important and any peons who get in the way. We can avoid trouble and get the mission done without any huge problems, and with all of us getting out of alive.”
“Alright!” Knave smiled, returning to his original position and appearing fully content with the world, “so are we heading out now or...?”
“There’s still three hours until dawn,” Erie observed, glancing at the moon, which was slowly beginning to descend and fade out of the sky itself, “so we’ll be waiting until then. Don’t want to wake any late nighters, and if it’s a bandit guild they’re probably all out on missions or at whatever homes they honestly have. The chances of the Guild Master himself being there are decent, but significantly less so for any of the second-in-commands. If they survive, the chain of command can quickly be rebuilt. We strike at dawn, when everyone’s probably coming in and preparing for another’s day work. Got that?”
“Yes, ma’m!” the rest of the group responded, saluting as if they were in a military company.
“Stop that already,” Erie grumbled, “we’re just a group of mages on a job, okay? Not a group of mercenaries or soldiers or... survivors, I guess. We don’t have to be that official with this sort of thing. ”
“And besides,” Gopher chirped in, “if any of us forget the plan than Knave can just beat up anyone who gets in his way!” The cat’s words were met with a cheer of assent form the green-haired Dragon Slayer himself.
“THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK EITHER!” Erie cried, stunned at the lack of common sense her two travelling companions displayed. She turned to Duncan in the hopes of SOMETHING resembling support, but the purple-haired barfighting mage had already collapsed into the corner, a sleep bubble emanating from his left nostril and snoring peacefully. I guess I’m without allies in this sort of ‘battle’ after all, huh? she thought to herself in a pessimistic sort of tone.
“I’m still awake, y’know,” Knave said simply from where he was lying, staring up at the night sky tranquilly.
“And?” Erie asked, raising an eyebrow, not entirely getting what he was pointing towards.
“...I dunno,” Knave answered, the sarcastic and monotone voice he had used with Duncan earlier returning suddenly, his eyes and mouth becoming nothing more than pure black, heavily simplified shapes.
“AT LEAST FINISH WHAT YOU’RE SAYING!”
A good few miles away from even Knave’s group, standing on another large hill (though this one was significantly smaller than the one the mages had chosen to camp out on), stood the client. He had a calm, peaceful expression on his face, and his choice of position afforded him a half-decent view of the dull tan landscape before him and the massive, badly-constructed castle in the distance. As a few gusts of wind tugged at his hair, the rich man smiled sadly while closing his eyes, letting out a small sigh.
And then he began to... change.
His entire appearance fractured suddenly, as if it was made of a large number of massive square, faintly shining blocks. Slowly, the blocks peeled away and drifted off a short distance before shattering into smaller fragments, with those fragments drifting slightly before dissolving in their own right. In place of his current appearance, a new one emerged. One that was much more sinister and deranged than the one he had worn to meet Knave and his friends. This appearance took the form of a much larger and lankier man, with odd, slightly angled, and weasel-like features. He had his tan hair slicked back and forced so close to his head that it appeared to be a part of it. His main attire seemed to consist of a massive white raincoat that was also padded as if he was preparing for snowy weather, which was pure white with red flame designs trimming the entirety of the garment. As his disguise fully dispelled, he yanked up the hood of the coat over his head, casting his facial features a bit more into shadow.
This accomplished, he reached up with his hand and pressed his finger against a small communication lacrima that was wedged inside his left ear. As his fingertip touched it, it began glowing softly, a connection being made. “Viscia,” he said simply, his voice low and with a hint of cruelty, though there was some amusement there as well, “it’s all in sight.”
“Is that so?” came a crisp and proper voice from the other end of the lacrima, undoubtably female, “and how did your stupid plan of getting people to do the work for you turn out?”
“Better than I’d hoped,” the man answered, a massive smirk forming on his lips, “ended up running into a group lead by one of the duller knives in the drawer. At worst they’ll cause a nice little commotion for me to sneak in and do the job.”
“Good,” Viscia sighed, and then added the smallest note of concern to her voice, “be careful, Kagurin.”
Kagurin’s smirk broke into a massive grin, his shoulders shaking violently as he tried to hold in what appeared to be a maniacal chuckle of sorts. “Be careful? Viscia-chan, I don’t need to be careful! I’m a member of the strongest Dark Guild in this damn continent! Just make sure that ol’ Rapante doesn’t have a good enough escape route, okay?”
“If you say so,” his female compatriot agreed.
The male Dark Mage removed his finger from the communications lacrima and the light it was emitting promptly vanished, signifying that it had deactivated. This completed, Kagurin stretched out his hand, flexing the muscles there slightly. At his motion, a bizarre membrane seemed to appear and expand rapidly to a sphere around his height and width. The membrane was a massive collage of colors, with purple, yellow, and hints of green appearing to be the most dominant, and it gave off a mysterious humming sound as it hovered a few feet above the ground.
“Mission... start,” Kagurin cackled as he carefully stepped into the membrane, his form vanishing completely as he did so. Immediately after he had entered it, the membrane snapped shut, leaving no trace that it had ever been there to begin with...
Finally, after a good few hours of nothing but waiting and making sure that everything was in order, dawn occurred, the sun peeking over the horizon once more and flooding the world around them in a peaceful, pale light. Even though the environment around them was as still ugly and pockmarked as ever, Erie had to admit to herself that it managed to look a good deal more presentable under the current conditions as she stood up and stretched slightly.
She glanced over the rest of her group, which was collectively asleep. Duncan was still in the curled up position that he had been in when he first dozed off, and Knave was in something similar to when he was awake as well, though his limbs were now spread-eagled and he was snoring peacefully, Gopher collapsed on his stomach and sleeping as well. Her patience just now beginning to run then, Erie released three magical ravens with another flick of her wrist, which promptly flew over and dug their beaks into the heads of the sleepers themselves.
“Gahh!” Knave yelled as he jerked up, his cat partner making a similar sound, the both of them grabbing their heads and swatting futilely at the birds, which promptly dissolved right as their hands neared them, leaving their individual heads quite bare of anything except their own hair. Duncan snorted slightly and lashed out with a punch that missed (thanks to the previously mentioned vanishing), but appeared to be the least bothered by Erie’s action.
Knave and Gopher, on the other hand...
“What the hell?!” they cried as one, pointing accusing fingers at Erie while tears streamed freely down their faces, “you didn’t have to wake us up like that, dammit!”
“YOU WERE THE ONES WHO FELL ASLEEP AFTER PROMISING TO STAY AWAKE!” Erie countered, delivering twin swift blows of retribution to the heads of both green-haired offenders, causing them to drop to the ground, rubbing the newly formed wounds and apologizing profusely.
“So...” Duncan yawned, either not acknowledging, not noticing, or not caring (the more unlikely option) about the damage the Dragon Slayer and cat had just received, “is it finally time to move now or not?”
Erie turned around, looking at the ramshackle castle, so far off in the distance. She squinted her eyes slightly, drawing on older experiences and training to do a rough estimate of the distance in her head. This done, she turned to face her comrades once more. “This is as good a time as any,” she answered, “the sun should still be making its way up if we head there at full speed, so we can attack so long as we leave now.”
“Too slow,” Knave said simply, evidently having recovered from his ordeal.
“Huh?” Erie asked, turning to the marimo with a blank expression.
“GOPHER!” Knave said as a way of explanation, placing his foot dramatically on the edge of the hill and punching his fist into the air! “FLY ME THERE!”
“Yessir!” Gopher said happily as well, briefly saluting before sprouting his standard white wings from his back and zipping through the air, seizing his partner by the back of the shirt. “towards the castle thing?”
“Towards the castle thing,” Knave nodded, an uncanny amount of solemnity around his figure.
“THEN LET’S GO!” Gopher yelled, putting on a burst of speed as he and Knave rocked from the hill and flashed off across the landscape, aiming for the Quick Hands guild itself!
Erie and Duncan were left in the dust, blinking slightly as they started after the two fellow mages. After a few moments of nothing but observing the occurrence, Duncan crouched down deeply and placed his palm flat against the ground, concentrating.
“Well,” he said, by way of an explanation, “can’t let ourselves get left behind. Genie Spring!” Purple energy boiled up from his palm and rapidly shaped itself into a super compressed spring on his palm. As soon as it completely condensed, it opened violently, knocking the purple-haired barfighter an extremely high distance into the air! Angling his leap slightly, Duncan positioned himself so that when he came down, all he had to do was allow the spring to knock himself forward once more.
“Hmph,” Erie, well, hmphed, before taking off at a light jog towards the edge of the hill, a large amount of raven suddenly spilling out around her, almost an aura, before collecting and condensing around the middle of her back, “at least wait for me! Raven Feather!” As the words left her mouth, the mass of magical ravens twisted a final time and completely merged together into a single black mass, and then exploding outward! Once it had done this, the purplish-black mass quickly twisted and shaped itself into the form of heavily stylized, and now person-sized raven wings. Erie leaped off the cliff, the wind catching both wings and allowing her to soar after her two other compatriots, joining them in their collective sprint towards their target...
It was, for all intents and purposes, a very ordinary day in the bandit guild known as Quick Hands. As dawn came and the sun rose slowly and lazily over the horizon, marking the beginning of yet another day, the members who had been out and robbing the night before made their way back into the guild in a huge rush. The sound of constant talking and yelling echoed throughout the entirety of the guild hall, and even the Guild Master, Rapante, in his small study in the very back could hear the hubbub. His two ‘S-Class’ lieutenants, Ladron and Faltrero, were busy trying to keep the chaos to something resembling a manageable level.
Still, life was good. They had managed to consistently score large hauls, and the guild now owned more money than it had had in its possession for many years. So long as nothing went wrong, all Rapante could see ahead of him and his guild was more and more riches, a bright, shining, radiant future of happiness and pure, undiluted lethargy.
So, as is the wont of the universe itself, something promptly went horribly wrong.
Something crashed into the front doors, the heavy oak wood they were made out of proving no object, and it flew into the main hall. The bandits inside, who were busy talking, laughing, and bragging, all froze, completely dumbfounded by the recent turn of events. The thing that had blown through the doors completed its short journey by landing hard on the ground, causing a small impact crater to form and debris to fly into the air. And yet the silence still persisted, as the members of the guild itself still couldn’t quite comprehend what had just occurred.
As the debris finally cleared, Knave Dhahaka poked his head up out of the small crater, Gopher’s following him a second later. The marimo looked around at both the assembled bandits and the main hall in general, taking it all in. Finally, he spoke. “Hey!” he said simply, “mind if I take you guys out now?”
Before the bandits could even hope to respond in any meaningful way, a massive, almost stained-glass window that was located just above the set of doors exploded outward, with Duncan falling through this time as a mass of purple energy dissipated very quickly behind him. “OH GOD WHY DID I STOP HERE?!” the former barfighter cried out in terror as he flew down next to Knave, landing with a similar fashion as his green-haired companion. However, it took the purple-haired young man a good few less seconds to right himself than had taken the marimo, and he was up on his feet in no time at all.
“So, you beat me here?” Duncan asked, cracking his knuckles as he noticed the bandits surrounding them, his mouth taking on the form of a grin in order to express his excitement for the impending battle, “guess that’s not much of a surprise.”
“Yeah!” Gopher said as he leaped into the air by both their heads, waving his arms around as if he had forgotten he had wings, and was therefore attempting to fly without them, “if I go as fast as I can, no way you could keep up with us!”
“Hmph,” the barfighter snarled, the friendly edge vanishing from his tone slightly, as he took Gopher’s words as a personal insult, “doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have caught up if I didn’t want to. I was just going easy on you, really.” His pride somewhat restored, Duncan took note of the fact that, well, one of their members was quite glaringly missing.
“The hell do you think that black haired lady is-?” he began, before being stopped as Erie herself glided in through the massive opening Knave had made, the raven wings sprouting from her back slowly dissolving and vanishing completely before she came to a graceful landing between the two boys.
“The ‘black haired lady’ is right here,” she said simply, brushing some stray bits of hair out of her face, before her amber eyes focused on their surroundings; most notably, the hundreds or thousands of adversaries that were currently watching their entrance with something that could only be described as bemused awe.
Knave paused for a moment, counting off the members. After a few seconds of attempting this task, he resorted to a simpler solution. “So, everyone’s here?” he asked simply.
“WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT?!” his two companions (Gopher abstained from this action) cried out as they delivered dual chops to the marimo’s head! He let out a small cry of pain, retreating a few steps and rubbing the now rapidly-forming lump that the blows had called into exquisite existence.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he apologized hastily, “I just like things the faster way, y’know?”
“The faster way was asking three clearly visible people, one of which you have known all of your life, if EVERYONE WAS ASSEMBLED?!” Erie asked in exasperation, resting the side of her forehead against her palm, a small sweatdrop forming on the opposite temple and sliding down slightly as she said so.
“...Yes?” Knave said in both an innocent and hopeful manner, like a little child who has forgotten the answer to a math problem and had given his best guess, hoping that it was actually right but slightly aware of the possibility that it wouldn’t be.
Erie started at the marimo for a moment, her expression one of complete blankness, as if she was struggling to comprehend the decision Knave had just come to. Knave stared back, smiling happily and waiting for her actual response. Duncan stared off into space, idly looking at the hordes of bandits around them, while Gopher sprouted wings and flew in between both Knave and Erie, his feline head and eyes flickering between them, waiting for either one to break the stare and conclude the short dialogue.
Finally, the black-haired female mage turned away. “Okay,” she said simply, “let’s just get this job over with.” She too faced the bandits surrounding them, her body and soul preparing for battle.
“Just like that?!” Knave asked, taken aback for the first time by her response.
“Yep,” Erie answered simply, “it’s obvious that neither of us are going to make very much in terms of headway in this argument, so I might as well just go with it for now. I’ve got a decent grasp of your personality as well, so I can assume that it’s futile to continue this.”
“O-oh...” Knave responded, his tone and choice of words showing quite clearly that he hadn’t understood a single word that his female companion had said. She pondered over her own words for a moment, attempting to find a way to simplify it for the marimo. Finally, the solution came to her!
“Just...” she began, “...just understand that the argument’s over and we’re still friends. Okay?”
Knave brightened, a grin appearing along his face. “Alright!” he said cheerily, before turning to match the others’ position, “so let’s just get this over with, and we can decypher the rest of that foreign language you just spouted when we’re done!”
“Foreign langu-” Erie began to protest, before a calm, strangely soothing, and also a touch feminine filled the air, interrupting her train of thought.
“Well, well, well,” came the voice, and from the crowd of bandits leaped out two figures, who sailed gently through the air before coming to a rest on one of the numerous beams that held up the great hall’s massive ceiling. The speaker was an average seized, almost albino man with short-cropped and wavy white hair. He wore a simple, one-sleeved kimono, and his other hand had a variety of bandages that looked very similar to Knave’s wrapped around it. The difference was, however, that these bandages covered almost all of his arm, except for the occasional break in which his pasty white skin could be seen.
The other was a rather bulky man, with a thick and powerful jaw, his head covered by more stubble than actual hair (though the same could be said of his chin). He wore a very bizarre outfit that seemed to consist of randomly assorted pieces of orange fabric with a thick black trim, and he gave off an aura of pure wildness. The two bandits stood beside each other, looking down at the independent mages with expressions of pure pity.
“My name is Ladron,” the more effeminate one said, “and I’m one of the two deputies of this guild. I’m sorry, but I can’t just let you see the boss that easily.”
“I’m Faltrero!” the more brutal one said happily, “and I’m not gonna let you punks pass either! Heck, you probably still have to get through all of those minor peons that are just below us!”
“YEAH!” a massive amount of the gathered bandits cried, drawing their various weapons and preparing for the kill, their eyes gleaming with a mix of bloodlust and excitement at the thought of life-or-death combat!
“Perfect!” Duncan smashed his two fists together, his eyes shining with an intensity that rivaled that of their opponents, and in fact appeared to have the exact same desire and causing Gopher to take a cautionary step backwards, the cat being repulsed by the aura he was giving off, his eyes comedically wide and scared. He turned to his green-haired partner in the hopes of respite, but only found the marimo sporting an exact replica of Duncan’s expression! Those two are too alike, Gopher thought to himself, sweatdropping.
“OKAY!” Faltrero howled, throwing up both of his tree-trunk like arms into the air, rallying the bandit troopers into an even greater frenzy than they had been in before, “let’s crush ‘em!” The guild members let out a collective roar of excitement, before charging directly at the group of independent Mages, their weapons and bodies prepared for battle!
However, before they could reach our little group of heroes, the ground in front and around them began to tremor, causing the bandits charging at them to halt their advance and look around wildly, searching for the source of the odd phenomenon. Earthquakes weren’t common at all in the area, and the last one they had suffered came about 40 years ago. So, there was no reason for something like this to occur in the first place! Even Ladron and Faltrero seemed puzzled by the occurrence, and were glancing around about as much as their own men.
And then the floor around and through the bandits exploded! The very ground beneath their feet was rent into chunks and pieces in massive fireballs of smoke, actual flame, and for lack of a better word, pain. And pain it was, as the bandits unfortunate enough to be standing above one of the explosions was thrown back, screaming in pain as the destructive eruptions did their work. In fact, eruptions was a good word to describe what was occurring: it was as if spontaneous volcanoes had formed under their feet just meer instants ago.
The attacking group stood still, completely shocked and frozen in place by the chaos unfolding around them, as even the two ‘S-class’ bandits proved incapable of re-rallying their now fleeing and panicking men, despite their greatest efforts. Slowly, however, the trance lessened, and they began to come back to their original senses. Erie was the technical ‘first’ to recover, at least because she was the one who spoke first after the initial panic had begun to fade and pandemonium had seized brutal, chaotic control over the guild.
“What the...?” the black-haired female mage thought to herself, her eyes narrowing as they scanned the entirety of the great hall, at times even seeming to pierce through the walls of rock and observing the other rooms and chambers that made up the labyrinth of a castle that the guild inhabited, “how did that happen?” An idea flashed into her mind, and she tried to speak as fast as possible in order to alert her teammates, “Is this on purpose-?!”
“Yay!” Knave cried happily, the marimo throwing both his arms into the air and almost cackling, as such was his glee, “looks like someone was nice enough to open up a path right for us!” He thrust his finger forward, pointing at the chaos that surrounded them, and specifically towards two large holes at the other end of the hall that apparently served as doorways or passages in some regard. “Alright guys, let’s just rush on through them and get the job done! A coincidence like this only happens once in a lifetime!”
“THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY THAT THIS IS A COINCIDENCE!” Erie cried.
Duncan shrugged, flexing slightly and prepping his body for combat. “I don’t mind,” he said happily, “you just lead the damn way, Knave. I wanna get this over with as soon as possible like the rest of ya.” He lowered both his hands, purple energy suddenly surfacing and wrapping around them, forming what almost looked like a membrane around the bar fighting mage’s hands. His grin grew even bigger, as adrenaline began to surge through him and got him ready for the fight.
“What he said!” Gopher sounded in as well, flying up and percing directly on Knave’s shoulder, poking his tiny fist into the air as if to signify his own determination, “let’s blow through all these guys!”
Clearly seeing that any efforts to convince her companions that such a charge might not be the best idea, Erie resigned herself to doing it their way for the time being. Heck, she even managed to smile as she conjured up a few ravens, which quickly began flying around her as a sort of honor guard, because to be brutally honest, she had suddenly found herself on something similar to their wavelength. At least, the thought of charging through a bunch of low-level peons didn’t seem like TOO much of a daunting task, and it wasn’t like she was fighting alone, was it?
“Yosh!” Knave smiled, the muscles in his legs tensing, “let’s break through!”
Kagurin wiped his hands off, giving a satisfied smile as he watched his explosions do their work: scattering the more useless members of the guild and potentially giving his little pseudo-puppets the time to get some of the work done for him. It had been a simple manner, really, setting up specific points and using Territory to open up pathways towards them. After that, all it took was to push his hands through a few specially created membranes, and use his more prominent Explosion Magic to create the eruptions themselves. As he finished making sure that no debris was left on his usually spotless fingers and palms, he took a step back and put his hands into his coat pockets, almost tempted to light up a quick cigarette.
It was good to be alive sometimes, he had to admit. Especially when all he had to do was watch his plans unfold.
“Storm Dragon’s...” Knave inhaled, the marimo taking a step back as magical energy gathered at the very back of his throat, a variety of bandits who had managed to recover their wits charging towards him, “ROAR!” He unleashed a massive stream of pure storm from his mouth, knocking his opponents aside in a manner akin to how a bowling ball takes out the pins with such gusto and vigor. The bandits collapsing all around him, the young Dragon Slayer released an almost predatory grin, his eyes still focused on the path that had been opened ahead of them.
To give the members of Quick Hands the credit they so rightfully deserved, some semblance of order had managed to restore itself after the initial confusion from the previously mentioned detonation. Not much of an order, mind you, but enough that some members of the guild had recovered and were busy pulling out weapons and striking at the interlopers, because while they may be scattered, they weren’t about to let some comparatively unknown people to just burst in and attack their boss and leaders.
The nobodies themselves, however, were having none of this diversion business.
“RAVEN BOMB!” Erie cried simply, as the ravens that had surrounded her person earlier suddenly flocked out, the magical birds quickly landing on whatever opponents that they could reach, with special attention being paid to those that were actually surrounding her. As soon as they perched, they began to glow with the same purple light that generally outlined them, and at a small flick of the pinky from Erie, they exploded! Small eruptions of magical energy struck the bandits, and a large group of them collectively collapsed, knocked out from the attack. This done, the black-haired Raven mage took a deep breath, before continuing to charge forward, a few more magical ravens appearing around her and perching on her shoulders and occasionally forehead.
Duncan too attacked the enemies that had chosen him to be their target, his body releasing more purple energy and causing it to surround both of his fists this time. “Genie....” he began, as his arms slowly began pumping back and forth, in a manner similar to punching someone, “...ORAGE!!!” And indeed, the barfighter began punching! The horde of blows, moving at incredible speeds, struck the group of bandits before they could even begin to react, and they scattered like bowling pins, their eyes whiting out without the slightest bit of resistance.
As the trio’s attacks all struck their opponents at the same time, it gave a decently impressive effect, as it seemed like a massive amount of soldiers had suddenly keeled over at the same time, as if they were moving as one! This done, the three Mages (and one cat) began rushing forward, heading as fast as they could towards their targets: the three holes at the end of the great hall, which according to Erie’s plan could lead them directly to their chosen targets!
“Oh my,” Ladron observed as he watched the chaos unfold, his own subordinates crumpling like paper against the combination of both the recent explosions and the attack from the three mages, “it looks like they’ll be making it after all. It’s been awhile since THAT’S happened.”
“I still don’t like it,” Faltreror snarled, shifting his position so he was slightly closer to the other ‘S-Class’. This way, they could talk at a tone around the same as their usual indoor voices, but minimize the chance of being heard by anyone who had somehow managed to seclude themselves nearby, “we’re just letting them head to the boss! How is that a good thing?”
“Oh, come now,” the more effeminate bandit replied as eloquently as he could, “you know how the boss can be. And besides, us three have a greater chance of taking down fighters of their caliber alone, rather than with these brainless brutes that we call guild members rushing around and getting taken out easily. Best case, they’re weakened slightly from the fighting, and worst case, we only have to take them out ourselves.”
Faltrero let out another small grow. He still had no love for the idea, as his desire to protect the guild master had been practically beaten into him. But still... Ladron’s idea wasn’t a bad one in the slightest. Finally, the brute had no choice but to go with his idea, since he wasn’t the best of thinkers himself and the boss wasn’t there to actually help him along with the discussion. The wild man let out an affirmative grunt, ducking his head slightly in a show of acceptance with the slightest bit of subservience.
“Most excellent,” Ladron said briskly, clapping his two hands together, “then, shall we be off?”
“Whatever...” Faltrero grunted. This decided, the two ‘S-class’ bandits leaned up against the wall they were closest two, and as they did so, there came a brief whirring of gears and other such machinery. The walls shook slightly, and two perfectly-sized circles emerged, before falling inward and exposing two previously unknown and unseen passages towards other locations within the ramshackle guild castle. The bandits stepped lightly (or in Faltrero’s case, heavily), and began heading towards their preset locations...
“Yosh!” Knave cried as he and his three companions continued to charge towards the now visible holes in the wall, “are we gonna separate here?” The marimo glanced at both Duncan and Erie, who were rushing along on either side of him, heading towards the same location.
“Do we even know which holes we’re taking?” Duncan asked, increasing his pace slightly to match the sudden burst of energy Knave had gotten.
“It doesn’t matter!” Erie answered, keeping up pace with the rest of them, “just go into the one nearest to you and take out any enemies you see, even if it’s the guild master! If we can do that, then the whole operation’s finished!”
“Operation?” Gopher asked, flying up next to her, his wings allowing him to keep up with the other three mages with a decent amount of ease, or at least more than running with feet would’ve given him.
“Or job!” Erie answered, an edge of irritation entering her voice as she rolled her eyes, “they’re the same thing anyway! The point is, just burst through and defeat anyone you can! Got that?”
“Un!” Knave, Duncan, and Gopher responded as one, nodding as more serious and concentrated expressions appeared on their faces. And at last, the holes came into view, massive expansions of black along a oddly moss-green colored wall. Knave put on a sudden burst of speed, pulling ahead of the others, and he angled towards the largest one, while also lifting his fist back into the air one last time.
“I’m taking this one!” the young Dragon Slayer called, turning his head around to face his friends, an air of determination around him as Gopher broke off from the pack as well, flying up to around his partner’s head, “you guys just take care of your opponents, okay? If I’m gonna get through this first job, I’m not going to lose any of my new friends!”
“It’s a promise!” Duncan smirked, a vague purple aura beginning to surround his form as he rushed towards the medium-sized hole, “and you didn’t even have to say it! No way I’m losing to these sorts of opponents this early on!”
“Erie?” Knave asked, turning to his one female companion, who had simply continued to rush towards the smallest of the holes, seemingly ignoring the conversation. However, after Knave had directly called for her, there wasn’t really any way she could continue to ignore her partners’ antics for much longer.
So she took a deep breath and exhaled, a brief moment of respite during the tenseness of the situation as a whole. “Sure,” she said simply, keeping her eyes on her targeted location and preparing to run through.
“Not good enough!” Knave said simply, his face assuming an expression of blank stubborness, “Duncan promised! You’ve gotta do it too!”
There’s just no getting around these sort of situations, Erie resigned herself once more, before allowing her facial expressions to relax slightly. She turned to the marimo, allowing a small smile. “Fine then, it’s a promise,” she said simply, “is that good enough?”
“Yep!” Knave yelled, having already put on an incredible amount of speed and rushing towards his own hole, before taking a flying leap and being thrown clear into it, soaring into the darkness that awaited him!