The Calm Before the Storm

Samarra stepped off the train into Clover Town, it was a rather short ride for her from Onibus Town, but her mind was to distracted to even enjoy the service on the train. Her guild had been left in ruins after Shattered Dusk ambushed them during a big gathering to announce the creation of their new school. How could I have been so foolish to have let my guard down...I should have known that the Grand Magic Games would cause some notoriety for Koma Inu, making us a bigger target for dark guilds... I'm so stupid for inviting so many family members to the guild! And now my sister and Nova's mom have been captured by those twisted dark mages! I need to get them back! I will do anything! She thought to herself, clenching her fist in anger, as she walked through the streets towards the building where the meeting will be held.

Alliance Group

Guild Masters of the Toveri Alliance

Last night she sent out an urgent message to the guilds of the Toveri Alliance, as well as a few special friends that Samarra has met in her travels that she feel could help her with the situation at hand. She looks at the scene around her and notices that the sky is beginning to be filled with dark clouds, almost as if it was about to rain. Samarra kind of chuckles to herself, finding it funny that the sky is reflecting how her heart is feeling...

Arriving at the building, she opens the door to see that the guild master's are already there. A few other friendly faces decorated the room; one being Samarra's father, Aldrich Inari, as well as a good friend named Ura, leader of the group called Ura's Mercenaries. Tension seemed to be high as all the masters were sternly sitting at the meeting table; while Ura and Aldrich stood against the wall. Being in the presence of so many powerful mages made Samarra somewhat nervous; even if she is a guild master herself. She glanced to see an empty seat at the table next to Aether, who offered her a slight smile, causing a light blush to form on Samarra's cheeks as she made her way towards the table.

"Well I apologize for my late timing, the train had to make an unexpected stop in Oshibana Town. But I digress... I see we are only missing one person; but since all of the official alliance members are here, I suppose I should call this meeting to order and explain what is going on." Brushing the stray hairs behind her ears, she lets out a long sigh as she takes her seat at the table.

"First of all, I want to thank you all for coming on such short notice. I know my message was rather cryptic, but I knew you all would understand the vast weight of the situation at hand... So as some of you may know already," Samarra begins, and shows a saddened look towards her father, as well as Valencia, "Yesterday my guild, Koma Inu, was ambushed by the newly revitalized dark guild called Shattered Dusk. The power of their members was greatly miscalculated by the Magic Council's report, for they have grown in both power and size. They destroyed my guild hall, left my members severely injured, and kidnapped one of my member's mother as well as my sister." Samarra says through gritting teeth, with clenched fists. "Luckily there were no casualties, and once Shattered Dusk got hold of the two mages, they left without another word. This means that they had a motive for attacking that relies on the capture of Kalina and Mrs. Akira... Based off the information that my guild members gathered during their fights with the dark mages, we can deduce that they are performing some sort of experiment on mages, supposedly with Lacrima implantations, in order to wipe out towns all across Fiore..."

Having regained her sense of composure, Samarra continues as she folds her hands together on top of the table. "Now I know this information may be lies meant to throw us off, but I believe Shattered Dusk is capable of such darkness. As members of this Alliance, I must ask your opinions on the severity of the matter, and if we should take action, or not, to stop these wrong doings? But as your friend, I ask if you'd be willing to help rescue my sister and Mrs. Akira, along with all the other possible mages that they have kidnapped?" Samarra says and looks around the table to hear the guild masters replies.

Nikolai Ichor, the eternally youthful mage is the Guild master of the Pantheon addressed these talks. "As Guild master of the guild that deals largely with the Ancient Spells I think we should handle this. I have two Third Generation Dragon Slayers, and another powerful Mage that aren't busy with jobs. It's one thing to experiment, it's another matter in entirely if they are making mages do these Lacrima implants against their wills."

"Your lack of modesty beseeches you." Aldrich so bluntly speaks up from the wall. "Samarra noted that their numbers and power were greatly miscalculated by the Magic Council. Pantheon, being a small guild, although possessing great power, may simply be too out numbered to be able to take on Shattered Dusk themselves." He continues. He gets up off the wall and gives a slight bow towards the master's table. "I apologize for my rude outburst and lack of introduction. My name is Aldrich Inari, head of the Inari Family and personal diplomat to the King of Fiore. I am the father of one of the kidnapped mages..." He says with a look, begging for understanding, towards Nikolai. "But I will provide whatever help I can to stop Shattered Dusk's plan."

Ura, still leaning against the wall replies, "I may be overstepping my boundaries here, but I completely agree and would like to offer any help I can. I could always provide backup if you need me to."

"Hmm i may be overstepping boundaries here as well, but wasn't this attack caused by you imprisoning the former Guild Master of Shattered Dusk away?" Said Numair as he sat there looking at Samarra. He seemed peaceful enough wearing his normal garb instead of a tuxedo. He seemed distracted though saying, "Not that I also won't help out, I just need to know why Shattered Dusk has risen up again and on purposely attacked Koma Inu."

Deciding to ignore that remark to keep the peace and Erebus at bay, Aether spoke up. "You don't need to worry Samarra. It doesn't matter who took your members, I'll do anything in my power to get them back. I'll fight alongside you. Besides, I'm a Dragon Slayer too. Let's say we fight fire with lightning and fire."

"Thank you Aether, Ura, Nikolai, and dad. It is true Numair, that we had imprisoned their former master away a few years ago. But if that was truly their motive, to seek revenge for their master's capture, don't you think that they would have stuck around to completely destroy the guild? They didn't attempt to kill any of my mages, which doesn't make sense if they were truly seeking revenge. They seemed to be fighting more as a distraction, while the mages were being kidnapped. That is why I think their plan of Lacrima implantation experiments is not a lie. The way they fought us was more of a diversion, rather then a malicious revenge..." Samarra spoke, her face showing that she was deep in thought trying to figure out what the Lacrima implantations could be for.

Valencia also decided to add in her voice as well. "Archer's Cross is fully willing to offer all the support we can. We may be new and small but we are strong. We will not hesitate to come to the aid of our friends. My mages are ready to bring back our member, your sister. As well as Mrs. Akira." Her voice was calm but her eyes were fiery with anger at what's happened. Her mages were in a nearby in Oshibana. They had been trying to convince her to let them come but she had put her foot down and reminded them to maintain order during chaos.

As the discussions continued, a magical power greater than any single mage had there, approached to guild alliance meeting place. The doors swung open, revealing a young red haired man who wore a simple white shirt and shorts with slip-on sandals. "I happen to know a little bit about the situation, if anybody is interested?" The young wizard said with an air about him that seemed to command some level of respect.

Tristan glanced over to the man who walked in. "Shōjirō Kusaka." He said in a calm voice. "One of the Ten Wizard Saints. Welcome and please tell us. We could use any information we can get." Tristan is one of the mages who's magic power is near equal to Shōjirō's but he still respected him as a great wizard.

'Hmmm so they only took two people from the Guild... Maybe they are trying to experiment with them, or maybe they are gonna torture them. Although if rumor is to be believed, as well as some of the intelligence that has been gathered, then maybe they are possibly are forcing people to become something... but what?' Numair thinks to himself as he ignores the newcomer. "Hmm maybe they are experimenting with something and they are forcing people to take part in it against their will. I mean it wouldn't be impossible considering the Magic that Shattered Dusk's New leader wields." Numair says as he taps his finger on the table. "Although if that is the case I fear for your sister and the other captive they took."

Shōjirō made his way to the table the guild masters were seated at, "Hey Nikolai, it's been a while." Shōjirō greeted Nikolai Ichor, as he dropped an envelop on the table. "Given the investigation of the Shattered Dusk dark guild I had my families information network gather, they're capturing wizards who have affinities to elemental magic's, such as your sister, Kalina..." Shōjirō motioned to the Koma Inu guild master, Samarra Inari. "And given that they're doing experiments using Lacrima, and in my opinion that sounds like they're trying to make Second-Generation Dragon Slayers." Shōjirō looked around before finding a chair. As he pulled up his chair he explained his theory, "In that envelop is the findings that my intelligence network has gathered so far. It has a general description of the area that the enemies guild is located in, but my spies were unable to approach any further without alerting the enemy." Shōjirō finished explaining for the moment as a golden pipe shaped like a dragon appeared in his hand, its head and neck twisted up and around and the pipes bowl rested between the dragons jaws. Shōjirō preceded to pack his pipe as his right thumb caught fire and he lit his pipe, inhaling the smoke that rolled from the dragons mouth.

Grabbing the envelope from off the table, Samarra pulls out the information gathered by the Wizard Saint's sources. It include descriptions of the Shattered Dusk mages, autopsy reports from failed experiments they managed to grab from the dark guild, as well as a map of Fiore that had an area circled in red. "So your sources say that the experimentation site is located in-between the two mountain ridges of central Fiore... If your sources are correct then this pass has no clear marked road, and leads straight to the desert, so very few mages ever venture out there; making it the ideal hideout for them." Samarra places the papers back on the table for others to look at and continues her analysis. "I am not as familiar with the Dragon Slayer process as some of you might be, but from what I've read in books and the Magic Councils documents, it is possible to become a Dragon Slayer through implantation of a Lacrima containing such magic. It would make sense that they are taking gifted mages, like Shōjirō stated, for the host body must be able to sync up to the magic and not be overcome by it's power." Leaning back in her chair, Samarra looks towards the rest of the room. "What is everyone's thoughts on the situation? I believe that we should act, but proceed with caution; since Shōjirō's spies were unable to get close to this experimentation site without alerting enemy security measures."

Nikolai lost his typical smile. "We need to stop them. As Second Generation Dragon Slayers are harder to make we need act now. As they don't have Dragon Slayer Magic, their Lacrima Rejection rate is much higher. If they refine the technique they could potentially make anyone a Second Generation, thus making an army. I volunteer with three of my strongest mages."

"Nikolai has a point. If you choose to wait, that could give Shattered Dusk time to make an army; whether that be of Dragon Slayers, or of corpses." Aldrich begins to say. "I know I am not part of this Alliance, but I feel that if you follow Nikolai's lead in creating a four man team; it will make it easier to slip by the enemies defense. If you happen to trip the security, I am sure that Ura and I can rally a group of mages to help fend off the enemies attacks, while your teams enter the facility." Aldrich casts his eyes to the ground, as his tone changes from serious to almost sad. "I know I am not part of the Toveri Alliance, but I will offer up all the help I can in order to get my daughter back..."

Samarra gives a soft smile to her father, and then turns back to the group of guild masters. "I agree; a small unit would be easier to slip behind enemy lines. I would be willing to lead Koma Inu's most experienced team into battle. Does anyone oppose the idea of a four man unit converging on the experimentation site?"

Standing up, Shōjirō, addressing all of the gathered guild masters, said, "If I may interject? I can act as a decoy. I will approach the enemies base and announce myself. Given what they want, I can almost certainly assume that they would love to get their hands on me..." Shōjirō continued "And while I distract the peons the four man team can slip in. Considering that I have the most magical power singly of anybody here I can handle this, after all I did defeat an entire army by myself once. But I have to voice this opinion; if the enemy is making Second-Generation Dragon Slayers I would suggest that any members of your four man units that use similar magic, especially of a higher tier battle their Dragon Slayers. Anybody not using a similar magic would be at a disadvantage, namely those pitted against a dragon who uses an element that one of your wizards use." Shōjirō finished, waiting for a response from the guild masters.

Nikolai looked at Shōjirō. "That's a bit presumptuous. Besides your too powerful, what if they had some means of capturing powerful mages. Then turning them into Dragon Slayers. As I am probably the only one here, strong enough to stop that if that happened. I know how to remove Lacrima implants without killing them. I doubt anyone here knows that, my team should be the main act. Shōjirō should be as backup. The other guilds show deal with any dark guilds collaborators. That way only my guild is in real danger." Nikolai looked for a response to his request.

Tristan interrupted. "I don't think that will be necessary my guild not only has 3 dragon slayers but we also have the power of a Wizard Saint as well. I understand everyone has unique talents to handle this situation and trust me you will get the chance to use them but first we need to stop the enemy and the dragon slayers they have under their control. Let my team be the distraction of the dragon slayers meanwhile the rest of you sneak into their base to stop their plan. And we mustn't waste our time debating as we speak the captives could be going threw the same experiment, we must act fast." Tristan announced in a calm manor. "And I suggest my guild only because we are fully capable of protecting ourselves in the process, I know you all can as well but we are prepared to give our lives for the protection of our allies." He voice got more serious as he continued.

Nikolai released power in the class of the Wizard Saints and those close to it. He then sealed it instantly. So much so none of the other mages could detect his power. In fact if they weren't looking at him, they wouldn't even sense his presence. " Let the Guild that was attack decide. It is their right, but while we are here fighting like old war generals thinking of plan of attack. The enemy has one." Nikolai spoke with such a voice that seemed to ease the tension in the air... if only a bit.

Shōjirō sat back down as a sake cup appeared in front of all of the guild masters. "Everybody, have a drink and relax while you can. I will agree with Nikolai. Samarra should have the right to decide, but I still hold firm on my earlier proposition, if you wish me to be bait, I will do so. I would like to say this though; Dragon Slayers would probably have the best chances of dealing with the same magic, with the exception of a higher tier magic, such as God Slayer Magic or Devil Slayer Magic, or even another for of lost magic." Shōjirō voiced his opinion again. "Now then every one, please drink what I have provided, but if you're a lightweight and can't tolerate alcohol I would advise against drinking my sake." Shōjirō encouraged the guild masters to drink what he provided as he drank the cup he provided for himself.

Numiar ignored the alcohol, for he kind of disliked alcohol. Numiar had been thinking and now he finally decided to speak. "I say this let Koma Inu go in why the rest of the Toveri Alliance deals with distractions, or presumably the Second generation dragon slayers they have already created it would seem the best idea since five guilds are more mobile then just one decoy guild. Plus each guild has its own strengths and slayers so it would be easier for a particular guild to take on the Dragon slayer that best suites them," Numair said as he opened a bag he had on him taking out a piece of strawberry cake. "And we haven't talked about how many dragon slayers they already have made and are controlling." Numair then digs into the strawberry cake saying, "But yes it would be best for Lady Komainu to decide for she is the guild master of the guild who was attacked."

"Tristan is right; as we speak captives could be undergoing experiments, and losing who they are as people, while you two are here debating who is stronger!" Samarra says, with a tinge of anger at Nikolai's and Shojiro's childish antics. "If we are going up against dragon slayers, we can not afford to have a team fall back. Yes Shojiro is right, that we will need to choose our teams wisely based on magical abilities, but the thing is, that with multiple teams, we would be able to switch up our opponents to better match our magical abiliites; even if we did bring elemental mages along with us. Also, logically Shattered Dusk would not have their most prized possession, the dragon slayers, guarding the entrance to the experimentation site; thus putting them at risk for exposure and damage. They will probably choose size over power, and have numerous soldiers guarding the entrance, while the dragon slayers are safely inside. I admire your noble sacrificial offer, but we will need each guild team to slip through and make it past the guards. That is why I called for the help of my father and Ura. They have enough mages at their disposal to take out the guards, without putting someone as high profile as Shojiro at risk." Feeling Aether put his hand on her arm, Samarra realizes how she was almost standing out of her seat.

Sitting back down, she cools down a bit and calmly explains. "I want to remind you all why I formed this alliance, and what it's purpose is...I will admit that I am not the strongest out of the people at this table; but to me, strength does not come from who holds the bigger sword. Strength comes from your will to protect the things that are closest to your heart. That is why I wanted to form this alliance, to protect those things that are closest to me. The people of Fiore are something I hold dear, and that is why this alliance is here. So that we can protect them from any harm that comes their way." Taking a deep breath, Samarra continues. "I know you want to boast about how strong your guild is, and how you alone could take on an entire continent, but that is not what an alliance is all about. It is not the power of a single piece, but the power of the collective. And right now, we need to decide if we are going to act as a collective, or if you wish to stand alone as a single piece."

Tristan looked over at Samarra and ginned. "Well Said ma lady." He thought in his head, proud of her for coming up with an inspirational speech. He looked around as everyone calmed down. 

"As always Samarra I stand with you. My heart goes out to your family and I know my forces may not be much of an addition but we will do our best to help protect the people of Fiore." Valencia stated. Her eyes stayed their usual calm but inside her heart she was enraged at the dark guild. She had also politely declined the alcohol. Her tolerance was high but it was tainted with bad memories.

"I for one stand that we go in as a collective rather than a single piece for we are stronger as a whole than as pieces are we not?" Numair says after finishing his cake.

Shōjirō sighed as two people, both clothed in black appeared. The first one spoke, a male, "Lord Shōjirō, we bring more information on the enemy."

"I have been stating we need to act now. A well thought plan, isn't always an option. I don't care if I'm stronger or weaker than anyone here. However, facts are facts. Tristian, Shōjirō, and myself are among the strongest ones here. We need to use these facts with our own guilds and the strengths and powers of pure members, to decide on what to do. Sorry Shōjirō no alcohol for me today. Now Samara you know of all the guilds here. What is your plan? I will follow it regardless of how if I feel about."

"before we just charge in lets here what these two have to say." Shōjirō said in a tone of authority unheard from his so far. He turned his attention to the two in black, "What's the news?"

The second one spoke, a female this time, "We managed to get a much closer look a the enemy and have learned that they have at least nine Dragon Slayers. But we're unsure how many of those nine have been forcibly implanted with Dragon Slayer Lacrima."

Shōjirō turned his attention back to the guild masters, "Well, you heard her. Now what do you want to do?"

"I've also heard that they have also freed their former guild master Crowley" Numiar says. "And i say we each take two dragon slayers while Koma Inu takes out Shattered Dusk's main headquarters."

Politely declining Shojiro's sake as well, Samarra spoke up. "Thank you Valencia for your support, and like Numair said, we are stronger as a whole. And you are part of that whole, so don't belittle your guild's power." She said with a warm smile to the Archer's Cross guild master. "Now as far as a plan, I believe that we should use Aldrich's and Ura's mages to help fend off the entrance guards, while each guild sends a group of four mages inside the facility. Because we are dealing with at least nine Dragon Slayers, as well as members from Shattered Dusk, I believe that us guild master's should be part of the team; since we can offer the greatest support. Being that their are nine slayers, that means that each team will be able to focus on one or two slayers; which should be manageable by a team of four strong mages. I will leave it to your own discretion, to pick who will be on your team; but I feel a smaller unit will be easier to coordinate attacks with, as well as infiltrate the facility. Each guild master can be given a communication lacrima to help contact other teams if their opponent happens to be a bad fit for their team; that way we can match up for optimal results." Samarra looks around the room to see if the other mages agreed with her quickly devised plan.

Shōjirō spoke up again, "I agree. I will also offer my families messengers. They can provide extra information that they gather between their trips. I will have two messengers for each guild. Is this acceptable? Also, what would you have me do? I normally work alone, but I can pick off stragglers, or I can take on some of their stronger mages."

"I think that the communication lacrima should be able to keep us informed with your families messengers; this way we are not putting more people at risk. And I would think it would be best of you stick towards the entrance of the experimentation site. We do not want them to deploy any trap that could capture one of the wizard saints. You can make sure that our forces at the entrance are successful, and step in if Shattered Dusk mages happen to be part of the guarding squad." Samarra addresses Shojiro.

Nikolai stood up. "As far plans made fast, it likely the only one that will work at this time. If we had days we could make a more precise one. I Nikolai Ichor Guildmaster of Pantheon agree."

Tristan closed his eyes and grinned as he laid back on his chair crossing his arms, not saying a word. Most could tell his grin was sign that he to agreed.

Valencia, glad that the testosterone had cooled, also stood. "As guild master of Archer's Cross I, Valencia Morningheart, agree as well. I hope this ends soon and everyone returns safely."

"As a guild Master of Harpy Wing I concur to this plan. Plus I could keep everyone in contact with Super Archive." Numair says happy that everyone has finally agreeing on a plan.

Aether rose to his feet, not having contributed much to the conversation. The talk had caused his rage to build, and it was getting increasingly more difficult to keep Erebus at bay. But with the tension in the room decreasing he was finally able to speak. "Samarra, you helped me once, and now I want to help you. I only have one other Dragon Slayer in my guild, but I also have a Phoenix, as well as one more member in mind. They may not be S-Class, but sending in my one S-Class Mage would be a death sentence for Shattered Dusk. I Aether Cade, master of Dragon Gunfire, agree to the plan. And I promise you Samarra, I will get your sister back." Aether sat back down, his heart beating a mile a minute. Not from anger, but from nervousness.

A bright smile was painted across Samarra's face at the support from her fellow alliance members. "Then we have a unanimous vote to take action against Shattered Dusk. Like previously stated, we need to act fast, so please rush back to your respective guild's and prepare your teams. We will meet outside of Shirotsume at dawn tomorrow, for it is the closest town to the experimentation site. From there will put the plan into action." Samarra stands up out of her chair and places her hand flat on the table. "With that, this meeting is ajurned, I will see everyone tomorrow at dawn. We will show Shattered Dusk the strength of the Toveri Alliance, and how we are not to be trifled with!"

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