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Justin OOC

Level 2: Might and Magic

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Tori fired her maneuver jets and breaking thrusters as she watched the first wyvern plummet. She hadn't realized that they had riders and that gave her a queasy feeling. Not for killing the rider but that she might be killing a wyvern that had no choice but to fight, much like horses in her world.

She spun the mech and opted to try some thing different to test a theory. She picked one of her foes and rocketed towards it as if she were going to ram only to alter course at the last second to overfly the beast and using her sword cut the rider from the wyvern's back!

Spoiler

you can tell what to roll or go ahead and roll for me if you wish

 

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It was almost funny, watching her swing a weapon at a target less than half the size of it, but with precise control, She smashed the blade into the rider, managing to not sever the beasts head, and splattering the hapless rider, showering the field with his gory remains.   The Riderless Dragon kept on, lashing into the gundam, the powerful jaws actually rending the mech's armor, and the other two moving to tear at the mechs legs and back, leaving rents in the armor, but failing to damage the main systems.

Ryan called out to the Lord.  "Your men are beaten Lord Elrois, I offer you a chance to save their lives, Duel me.  Win, and you can retreat with whoever has survived.  If you lose, you submit to my lord, and become his vassal."

"My wyverns will tear that thing from the sky, and you will wall to my blade for your insults."

Ryan shook his head.  "I'll just massacre them all, and send you back alone in rags, and let your subjects deal with you then."  He scowled, and moved to power up lavaetien even more.  "Wait, I'll duel you."

Ryan smiled and his sword shrank to the size of a normal one.  "Excellent."   The soldiers all backed away, forming a circle, they were still broken from everything else that had happened.  The Lord activated his crest, which shown with a bright orange light, and Ryan nodded.  "Ability boost" eh?  Cool.  I was wondering what your crest did."

"You can see that?"  The lord looked shocked.  

"Not the only one with a special ability."   He was surrounded with a soft blue light.  "Now let's begin."  With that they both closed in, swinging their swords with greater power than anyone else there could muster.
 

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On ‎1‎/‎17‎/‎2019 at 11:20 AM, Justin OOC said:

"In time Yuuki, I will explain everything."

They returned to the regular world, and bid goodbye to Siluca.   She returned to the Keep, and left them with Izona, who wasted little time, taking them to another room, which resembled a classroom, complete with a chalkboard.   There she began to teach them the fundamentals of magic in this world.   The first three days was alot of terminology and  long explanations regarding the nature of magic, basic theories.     The next three days saw them talk of foci and magical materials.  In the end, Yuuki ended up with a moonsilver Magatama amulet as her focus, and Vesper's was a darksteel bracelet.  

"Moonsilver changes, but is always pure.  The light it gives off is soft, but even the deepest darkness it cannot be extinguished.   Darksteel is indestructible, even in the core of a star.  It is unchanging, and eternal."   According to Izona, having chosen these materials would only increase the power of their magic, as they would serve to keep it from running rampant.

With their foci chosen, they were given a day to rest, before the most intense week of their lives began.   for fourteen hours of each day, they were trained separately in magic by Izona.   It was revealed that Izona could duplicate herself, to accomplish this, and Each was just as powerful.   Using her Magic, she engaged them both in combat, and proved to be overwhelmingly stronger than either, but this illustrated the power of Magic, as she only used magic of each of their elements with them.   She'd then teach them of the magic she used, while they couldn't hope to master tier 4 spells or higher yet, still the explanations helped them see how each tier built upon the others.   She would heal them after each battle, then they'd go again.  Magic it seemed was mostly a combat art, but she did show them other ways to use it that weren't combat related.   Gathering information, summoning familiars, defending others, curses and banishing, curing wounds and sickness, If it could be done with magic, she taught them all of it.

It was at the end of the week That she made a revelation to the two of them.  "So have you two enjoyed our first six months together?  I should probably have mentioned that.  1 hour in my dimension is a day out here.  As its laws are my discretion, there's reduced fatigue and no hunger there, so it probably didn't really seem too bad to the two of you, but that's why you slept well and ate when we came out for the day each day.  It's predicated on you both getting 8 regular hours a day of sleep."  The fact remained that they still had two more "weeks" of their training before returning to the castle.

Yuuki tilted her head to one side, golden eyes tinged with confusion and a spark of subsiding horror as she realized that they weren't in a reversed, fairyland-style time chamber, years flashing by as they were lost in a haze of training. And it *was* enthralling training, so much more dynamic than the endless hours of memorization and ritual she had gone through back on the shrine to so much more effect than any of the small miracles that looked just like coincidences or basic psychology  if you blinked. Which wasn't bad. Just... So much less colorful than she wished things could be in her life back home.

That was a big part of the reason she was in her transformed state now, she liked it, and it didn't hurt her training, and her power seemed happy enough that she was more happy...

"I guess time flies when you're having fun, Mistress Izona," the shrine maiden offered with a slight bow and a chuckle, not really worrying at the prospect of more training, more practice. There was a spell in one of her domains that let her borrow someone's boat, for Kami's sake. And another that let her fly. Who wouldn't enjoy flying? She had faith that if something truly bad happened to Tori and Ryan, Izona would know and would tell them so that they could act.

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Learning magic was...difficult for Vesper. Belief was a big part of it, and belief took trust. She wasn't deep into 'trust' as a concept. Seeing Yuuki easily grasp incantations and start creating effects only made it worse. Vesper got angry, and frustrated, and slipped back into using her own powers over and over again. Finally Izona just kept pushing...banishing the Therion and forcing Vesper to exhaust herself until her own powers were out of reach. The celestial didn't hold back, and in the heat of the moment Vesper feared for her life. Desperation, raw and primal, pushed past her usual apathy and she cast her first spell.

Later, when she came to after being healed, she remembered that moment. From there her progress began. Unlike Yuuki, Vesper learned in fits and starts. She tended to get hung up at first, and then suddenly 'get it' and make up for all the lost time and then some. Her spells were tempestuous, tapping into the turbulent passions that she kept wrapped under her stoic demeanor. Subtlety was not her strength.

Where Vesper shined was in the presentation, the imagination. When she concocted a spell to conceal herself behind illusory doubles, the doppelgangers each seemed animated by different imperatives...each one acting differently, even while imitating what Vesper was doing. Her explosion of fire was filled with the images of screaming skulls and writhing figures, as if damned souls danced within. When she summoned a storm, it was ushered in by a deathly reaper's silhouette in the clouds, and the harsh noise of electric guitars howling in the thunder.

Finally, when they broke and Izona broke the news, Vesper frowned, not quite getting it.

"Wait, so...why? Everyone out here has been waiting months even though we've only been training a week? That makes no sense. If anything it should be the other way around, with us training for months, but it only taking hours. What's even the point of doing it this way?"

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"You're not grasping it Vesper.  Here in the real world, it's been two weeks.   Each hour out here, was a full day in my dimension.  You've both been training for six months and change already, and we're about halfway done."  Izona answered her patiently.    "I could train you longer, but you both said only a month out here was allowable.  It would be at least that to get you both into fourth and fifth tier spells, so I'll do what I can to use the rest of time to see you master third tier spells."  

she seemed quite happy with herself, even as she moved to the Kitchen to start cooking.  "Any requests for meals?  I can make pretty much anything here in my kitchen.  Maybe you'd like to get a bath?  the third door on that hallway to the right.  It would be good for you both to relax abit."

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More angry than disappointed at her plan not working, Tori fired her ascent rockets and, grappling the clawing Wyvern and taking it  along with her, clinbed higher and higher and faster and faster all the while stabbing the beast with her blade in close combat.

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With all three remaining wyverns in the air attacking, her sudden maneuver did shake two of them, still, the one she stabbed didn't die after the second stab, even as they rocked into the air.  The other two wyverns ascended trying to catch the metal titan, while on the ground, Ryan traded steel with the Lord himself.   The Lord was a good swordsman, and used to fighting with his battle ability enhancement, but Ryan's was literally like a second Skin, and he knocked the Lord back, nearly halfway across the circle.  "Come on, man.  You're a Lord, you've got a master crest's ability buff, and You're still only this good?  I was hoping to fight a real swordsman."  his words were meant to enrage, and they did, as the air was filled with the Lord's invective against Ryan, even as he came in hard for another series of attacks.

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"May I help you prepare the meal whatever it is? I'm fine with bathing afterwards," Yuuki offered to their teacher, trailing behind the angel with a smile. Meal preparation was a sort of balm to her, simply following a series of steps with no expectation of presentation or charisma on the part of the food she was preparing. The revelation that so much time had passed for her and Vesper was quietly burbling  in the back of her mind, working it's way up, and the shrine maiden wanted something to distract her from the reality of what that meant to be missing so long. 

For her. For the shrine. For her family.

Taking Izona's silence for consent, she claimed one of the aprons hanging from the hook near the door, pausing just a moment. While harsh where it mattered, Izona  lacked the hard edges of her great aunts, and that gave her the courage to ask a question that had been nagging at her. "Mistress Izona, I'm curious. What experiences have you had with other worlds? The people, cultures, how they've handled going home again?"

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Vesper frowned a little. She was pretty sure Izona had said...meh, whatever. The important part was that they hadn't spent half a year vanished away.

Her folks were going to think she'd run away from home. Would that be so bad? She wasn't sure.

She'd turned and was starting to head back to her room when Yuuki's question caught Vesper's ear. The fledgeling witch paused and glanced back, a little curious about what the answer would be.

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"I only know of One who left one world for another, aside from you and your friends."   She smiled  "And that would be me.   My old world perished, and I alone was able to escape it, by making some sacrifices.  The spell that let me come here was a one shot spell, then mana of this world is simply incompatible with it, so here I've remained all this time.   I learned this world's magic, nearly all of it, to pass the time.  It's actually pretty inferior in many regards to my world's magics, but It lets me keep the charade up as a unique "Ancient race" from the world's prehistory."

She just smiled, after admitting to essentially conning the whole world as to who she was.  "I'm hoping that after training you, and within the knowledge you gave me, there's some way for me to go to another world.  I've learned all I really want to learn from here, and I'd rather not be stuck here if there's no magic."

She looked at them both with a more ominous smile.  "And now you know the price I ask for learning the higher tier magic."

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

Elsewhere, The battle against the wyverns continued, with Tori finally freeing herself from the final wyvern, stabbing it, and knocking it away.   Once clear, she drew the beam canon and fired, the shot taking the head and neck from the wyvern, leaving two more flying ones, and the grounded one, which was currently engaged against the Lord's remaining troops, rampaging as it was riderless.

The Lord traded blows again with Ryan, and it was clear to see Ryan was just toying with him now.  "Look man, you're a lord, you gotta put on a brave act for your people, but you're beaten.  Yield now, and you walk away with your life at least.  Hell, Lord Theo may even grant you a subordinate crest to continue ruling your lands in his name."

 

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Well, that wasn't a no to her helping with the cooking...

Yuuki slipped the apron on over her bodyglove, presenting the strange juxtaposition of 'domestic superhero' as she considered their teacher's request.

"Well, I would have no problem with you following us home, Master Izona, as long as it didn't devolve into something out of my unpleasant stories afterwards," the shrine maiden began, the angel having teased a few of the plots of her manga and  religious training out of her, "Unfortunately, the magic that will bring us home doesn't belong to us. It belongs to our Patron and will trigger when we complete whatever objective he's decided is the keystone of our task here. That could be any time really."

Or if they failed and took a whole year. But that didn't merit mentioning.

She tilted her head to one side, "But if you have a means to keep an eye on us and observe the magic in action, maybe even hitch a ride... Well, you've taught us that magic seen first hand is best learned. That could work?"

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Vesper found a spot to sit down while Izona talked and Yuuki...yuukied. There were a couple of things about Izona's story that seemed a little...weird to her. But then again, what about this situation wasn't weird? She reached back and took hold of her long, straight black hair and tugged it forward over her shoulder so she could absently play with the end of it.

"Who taught you magic once you got here?" she asked.

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Izona chuckled as yuuki stepped in to help cook.  She was getting things together to make something simple, a spicy chicken curry.  The fact the preparations looked the same as in their home wasn't lost on either of the two apprentices.  Izona had Yuuki get the rice going.  Soon enough everything was ready, and the meal was surprisingly good.  

"To answer what you didn't ask earlier, I can't show you the spell, because I can no longer perform it.  More than that, It was never something written down, it was something only I could do.   I had hoped this world had such magic, or that someone here might create it, but in all my time here, I have yet to hear of such, or meet someone like that.  Then Siluca comes by wanting me to teach two young women from another world the magic of this world.   Of course I would agree, I want the chance to study you, to see if the mana you possess has the same capability as mine once had."

She looked over to Vesper.  "I learned Light magic from the Sage of Conviction, a Archmage from before the founding of the Grand Magic Academy.   From there, I traveled around, searching the other archmagi, and learning from them.  I've learned from all levels of magi, As different people have different views, and each has helped my mastery of Magic grow."

-------------------------

 

The Lord Spat out a string of curses, even As Ryan moved, closing the gap in a moment, and batting away the Lord's sword.  His blade against the Lord's throat, even as the Lord fell to his knees, yet So precise was Ryan's control that he didn't even nick him.  "Surrender, or die."

Above Tori was lining up another shot on one of the flying Wyverns, andthe lord nodded,  "I surrender."

The soldiers all fell to their knees in defeat.  Ryan lowered his sword and pulled out the phone.  "Tori, put the gun away, just knock out the rampaging one.  This is over, they're beaten."  She did as she was asked, and it took a single punch to lay out the riderless wyvern.  The other two landed, and Ryan stood there.  "Have your men return home.  Send the riderless wyvern back with the two you've got left.  There's probably enough rope left for you to have them carry it in a sling together."  Quickly the lord issued orders to that effect, and the remaining soldiers did as they were bid.  

The lord was still kneeling, and Ryan was standing there with him. Tori was using the banshee to help rig the sling to carry the unconscious wyvern.  "Why spare them?" 

"My lord has his own aspirations.   Killing your people would only make them harder to achieve.  If You'd have at least been civil when We first met, None of them would have had to die.   We pulled the trigger, but you have the order that made it necessary.  Still, we don't want to kill anyone if we don't have to, so there's no good reason for your men to die.  There will be other battles, and now that your title and lands belong to Lord Theo, your men may be called upon to defend them still.  All the better then that they live through this encounter."

"That is not the way things are done here..."  

"And I'm given to understand you've only known constant war for at least a century.  This way, well, Most of your men live to return to their families, to protect their home instead of attacking others.   Which do you think they would prefer?"

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Listening to Izona's explanation, *now* Yuuki was concerned, chasing a few last grains of rice around with her chopsticks to gather her thoughts.

"Not that I don't want to help still, but I need to ask: Just how reduced were your abilities after casting this... gate spell or however it functions? Even after we succeed here, we'll probably have other worlds to help if our Patron asks us too. I can't..," she began before stopping and violently shaking her green-haired head and looking up again, old chains of duty put aside for more honest chains of want, "No. I shouldn't increase the burden on my teammates by recklessly injuring my ability to contribute to the fights to come. It wouldn't be right, and possibly even risk the missions failing if the cost is too high to help one person no matter how grateful I am... If I even could..."

The shrinemaiden took a deep breath to stop the flow of word vomit and plaster a sickly smile on her face, "...But I'm probably getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Please. Explain. 

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Vesper just nibbled at the food, watching and listening. Izona's interest in teaching them magic made sense now, but she couldn't shake the feeling there was a somewhat sinister edge to it.

In any event, none of them controlled their own movement between worlds, so Izona was in for a disappointment...hopefully she wouldn't go mental over it or anything.

The potsticker thingies were pretty good.

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With the lord beaten, soon his remaining forces were headed home, he would be brought to Theo, where he'd surrender officially.  Theo held no grudge, and granted him a subordinate crest, to rule his former lands in Theo's name.  Needless to say, the Standing army of the dukedom was beside itself.  They'd never seen two people defeat twenty thousand, backed by Wyvern riders.  The dead Wyvern was taken, its bodyparts useful for crafting weapons and armor, and as magical catalysts.  

Theo pulled the two of them aside later, and thanked them.  "I've never heard of such power, but my friends, thank you for protecting this land and its people.   More than that, you showed them that what I want isn't endless bloodshed, but justice.   I am not foolish enough to think there won't be blood spilled on this path, but with you at my side, I know there will now be much less.  Word of your battle will spread, and most will be very reluctant to react without thought and consideration."

At Izona's home, the trio ate, speaking of simple things, and then it was back to training.   At least now they knew why she always seemed to be staring at them.  She was watching how they used mana, how it acted, and trying to see if it was compatible.   She knew they were not quite ready for Level Four and Five spells, so she continued with the third tier spells, and increasing their mastery up to that point.  What this served to do was to lessen the load on them, making the spells easier to cast, and surprisingly, she was able to to teach them how to activate the spells without the full incantations, which while cutting the power of the spells, let them fire them off much faster than any other mage.

Izona smiled at them.  "Well, it has been a year.  I've taught you what was safe to within that time.   I'm sure you're both ready to return to your friends.  Why don't we go out, get cleaned up, and then I can bring you to them, and you can catch up?"   Izona hadn't changed at all in the entire time they were there, which in and of itself seemed odd, and gave credence to her self stated otherworldliness.

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"Of course, Master Izona," Yuuki offered with a mixture of acceptance and sadness on her face. Last time they had come out of what she had come to think of as 'the time chamber', she had made a point of repacking her sparse things and putting together some rations for the journey back, cleaning an already impeccably neat room for whoever was here next, and glancing over her collected notes. 

There were a *lot* of spells out there, even just within her three affinities and just the first three tiers. Amazing and kind of sad that whatever Chaos was and how it had intermingled with this world's magic, that sealing it would seal the magic, too.

"You can have first crack at the bath, Vesper. I take longer anyway," she offered to her teammate, confessing a small vice she had let herself enjoy this past 'year' now that she didn't have to be mindful of the aging water heater back home, luxuriating in the warmth and comfort of one of the small perks of this situation.

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"You know, this year..." Vesper paused, trying to find the right words. "...it means we're both like, a year older than we should be. We're actually going to die sooner than we would have."

"...I'm gonna have that bath."

She turned and swished away. Nailed it.

For someone who didn't show a lot of enthusiasm towards baths, Vesper took her time once she was in one. She was fastidious about scrubbing, rinsing, then scrubbing again, until her pale skin was pinkish. Then she drained the water and refilled the tub to rinse in clean water. Then she finally was done.

The magic was still on her mind. She wasn't sure what to make of it...kinda like when she'd first taken the 'Game Master's' deal and awakened to her psychic abilities.

And the Therion, of course. That had been a thing.

Like everything else, it just didn't feel 'real.' She could do these things, and knew how and why she could do them, but there was this disconnect between a world were things like that were possible, and the world she felt she lived in. Or maybe she just didn't feel like SHE fit in the world she lived in, and so nothing at all felt real? Was she even real?

Vesper got dressed, going through the motions because it was easier than dealing with the consequences of not, and emerged from the bathroom.

"Your turn, Yuuki."

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Izona smiled.  "Well you two have come along so well, I think your friends will be really surprised."   Izona finished cooking and had sat down to eat,  making her own decision.  "When you leave here, I will go with the two of you.   I have studied you, but there are two others from your world.  Perhaps studying them will let me get the last information i need to find a way off this world before the death of all its magic."   

It was a bold declaration on her part, Something that didn't seem like it would ever have happened at first.

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Yuuki blinked and decided to leave that very dramatic statement where it lay, instead focusing on the last, long, guilt-free soak she'd probably have here unless they came upon a hotspring… The shrine maiden doubted that they'd stumble upon something that good in the struggle to come, but if one didn't hope, one might as well dig themselves a grave and lie in it. Her clothing and whips vanished into mist after she removed them and stepped away, returning somewhere else ready for her call as she settled into the steaming water.

She almost purred at the deep, deep heat as it penetrated into her bones, green hair floating around her. Oh, Kami. She was going to miss this.

Reluctantly pulling her neck and shoulders out of the water, she reached for the bottle of soap marked for her, spotting her moonsilver ring where it gleamed from the bathroom counter, getting an idea. Oh. That was delicious. And just enough of a show-offy pizzazz-class entrance it appealed to a small, maybe wicked, maybe not, part of herself that whispered in her ears at night and growled at her from the root of her powers midcasting.

"Why not? All she can say is no," Yuuki voiced aloud, laughing as she got to work cleaning herself, humming an old shrine festival song under her breath.

One bath, change in a magically-clean bodyglove, and final pack check later, the shrine maiden approached her teacher for this past year and bowed deeply, "Master Izona? May I have the honor of getting all three of us back to the castle? It should count as a valid target for Towngate, and I certainly consider both of you my allies." 

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Izona smiled  "Of course, take us to your new home."

What followed was Yuuki chanting the aria for her spell and their teleportation to the castle gate.

"Spirits of Life and Death, Shapers of Silent Fate Hear my Call:
My Allies and I Need to Return to the Shelter of Friendly Walls!

Take Us Up and Bear Us Away in your Grasp, Past Danger, Past Fury, All of Us Gathered Here:
Our Safe Passage Through the Howling Void, I Entrust to You, Void of All Fear.

We are Your Children. Take Us Home. 
Spirits Hidden High in the Sky and Deep in the Loam.

Order Sign! Towngate!"


The magic symbol shone brightly on the ground beneath them and the spell began and enveloped them

Preceded by a massive shining magical symbol, The castle guard was alerted and quickly roused to stand ready for whoever was coming.   Ryan came at a run, along with Tori who took to the sky in the Banshee, as Siluca and Theo were running behind Ryan.

When three forms took shape Ryan still hadn't drawn his blade, and he smiled.  "It's about time they finished.  We've got so much to catch up on."

There was a flash of white light and Yuuki and Vesper were there with a woman he didn't know.   Still she had a set of wings seeming coming from just above her hips and a halo of light.  "Cool, a Celestial.   Nobody told me we had those.   I guess that means demons are a thing here too?"   The two natives looked at him with shocked expressions, and then a look of almost resignation.  "Does nothing Faze you?"   

"Sure, just nothing like this.   besides they're friends."  

Flabbergasted the duo motioned for the gates to be opened and together they went out to meet them.   Having learned a new trick herself, Tori brought the Banshee in low, and then unsummoned it, walking up slowly behind them.

For Vesper and Yuuki They were both very aware of the look in Izona's eyes, having been subjected to her intense curiosity and scrutiny for a year.  It was up to them if they wanted to warn the other two, even as the quartet strode to them.  "Come in my friends, Welcome back home.   I trust your training was successful?"  

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"Very," answered the green-haired shrine maiden, grinning widely at her teammates before offering a deep bow in the direction of their native allies, "Lord Theo, Lady Siluca, Master Izona has elected to accompany us for the time being. I hope that is acceptable to you."

She straightened back up and adjusted the strap of her backpack where it had shifted during her bow, laughing softly, less tense on some fundamental level then the quartet would have ever seen her, "I'll tell you all about it tonight at dinner, the parts that are mine to tell at least."

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Vesper shrugged at the question. "Pretty successful I guess," she sighed. "I'm out of smokes though. Did not bring a year's supply. Go figure."

"Anyway, I'll tell you the rest." She nodded at Yuuki. "Whether it's mine to tell or not."

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Introductions and greetings made, they finally head inside the main part of the Castle, and Were shown to their rooms, where they'd be staying, and then on to the Council Room.   While not the official audience hall, this room allowed Theo to be frank, and them as well, and with so much to catch up on, It was agreed this was for the best.

Once everyone was seated, began the tale, Starting with the subjugation of the surrounding Lords.  Because Ryan was having Theo take the surrendered Crests, his own legend had grown immensely, In just a short month, he'd become known as the Indomitable Swordsman.  Tori was the Mistress of the Steel Sky.  Which brought a flush of anger and embarrassment to her face when it was said aloud.  

The two of them were responsible for the early victories, Allowing Theo to build and train his own Army, preparing them to engage the larger powers.   It was the Kingdom that had first approached them, With Crown Prince Elias coming to parley in person.  It was at this parley that they learned a welcome truth.  Elias was still in love with Marina, The Crown Princess of the Empire.   Spies had been sent out to ascertain her feelings, and reported it was the same for her, but her duty to her people forced her to Fight for dominance.  She would defeat all other lords, and be crowned Empress, so that the war abhorring Elias would not have to fight.
Theo himself had promised to make Elias' wish a reality, and in exchange for Official recognition and support, The new nation or Sarnarium was created  It was sandwiched between the Empire and the Kingdom, but accounted for nearly eighty percent of their shared border.  Currently the Imperial army was on the March headed for Sarnarium, but they were still a week's march out from the border.   Theo was marshaling his forces, along with those of his subjugated Lords to take the fight to them.   Of greater concern was the Imperial Mage Academy, which had tried to forcibly recall all their Magi from the Kingdom and Nation of Sarnarium.  None had answered, but they were still well outnumbered.

Izona smiled.  "Most Imperial magi can use one school of spells at best.   All of my protege can use at least 3, and in exchange for abit of research assistance from Tori and Ryan here, I will lend you my own Magic, Lord Theo."

The two of them looked to each other, and nodded.  "Deal, so long as it's nothing weird."

Theo nodded, and then continued.  "It is our hope that we can deal with the Empire and force them to sue for peace.  If we can triumph, then I will cede my crest to Prince Elias, who would then be crowned as Emperor of a united Empire."

"What about Lord Vorn?" Came a question from Yuuki.

"He's deceased.   The dragons were a pain in the ass, but once Tori and I handled them, it turns out the rampant oppression of the people caused them to rebel, and the military, seeing their dragons slain, simply melted away.  In the end, Theo himself was the one to fight Lord Vorn and take his life and crest."

He pulled out his phone which drew Izona's gaze.  "We've got two of the Objectives accomplished now, since you two learned Magic. with two more in reach.  I think the 5th will end once we finish number six."

Ryan gave a smile and sat back down.  "So that's where we are.  The Empire's marching here with two hundred and fifty thousand troops, and we're preparing to fight them with around seventy thousand.  They've got dragons, golems, wyverns and other beasts, as well as more Magi than us."

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"Okay. That sounds... challenging," Yuuki answered after a pause to digest the scale of the task ahead of them, furrowing her brow in thought, "Um, how long until they get here?"

"Seven days, give or take,"  Ryan answered. Oh. That wasn't a lot of time. Still, the green-haired shrine maiden had  one idea to help prepare.

"Give me some helping hands and a few crates of apples, and I'll carve you as many trenches as I can before they arrive. Make the easiest road the one you want them to take. And if they do bring an earth mage to roll right over them, that's one less spell they can cast during the battle. Don't have a clue where'd you want them put though since I wasn't here to help set up for this earlier," she wrapped, up, guilt blooming in her eyes and reducing her output of floral scent. People were going to die. A lot. And her one spell to bring them back would suck her dry in just five goes.

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"More magi doesn't mean better magi," points out Vesper. She then asked Izona "How strong are we, compared to them? I know you guys said we know more kinds of magic, but..."

She trailed off thoughtfully.

"What if they didn't have any magic at all? Would that be a good thing? I mean, we might not either. Except the stuff we brought with us."

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Ryan nodded.  "Sure, we can set up several lines of traps on their main avenue of attack, and slow them down."

Izona chuckled.  "The Empire has perhaps five Magi stronger than the pair of you, who possess more than one affinity.   Quite a few at your level but only a single affinity, mostly fire or air."   Her smile was rather wicked, and she nodded.  "Absolutely none at my level though."

Theo thought about that.  "As much as you've trained with magic, is there a way to set a Magical trap that cancels magic over a vast area?  If we could take out all their spellcasters with one shot, that would remove their artillery capability, as well as some of their medical recovery ability."   

IT was a real ruthless strategy, and it surprised many.  Izona nodded.  "I can do that, but It would be all I do so long as I maintain the effect, assuming you want our allies to still be able to use their magic, and I would need a very capable defender, as i won't be able to move much while doing so."

Ryan nodded.  "I'll do it."   He looked to the three women he came with.  "This will be your fight to win then, We'll just make sure you've got a fair chance."

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Vesper blinked, then nodded. That'd work too. Much easier from her perspective.

"Okay, so we can still use our normal powers, just not the spells you taught us. Works for me." She looks at Yuuki. "You?"

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Izona shook her head.  "no, you'll be able to cast your magic, so will Siluca, and any other mages Lord Theo has.   By maintaining the spell, and doing nothing else, I can ensure it remains that way."   

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"Could work. As long as our Mistress of the Steel Sky can keep the flying monsters from hopping over the trenches and we can... well, buff our troops and they can't..," thought Yuuki aloud, golden eyes introspective, "But more importantly, Lord Theo, *how* do we fight to draw our main target forward as soon as possible? He dies, we win, right? Every dead man can unleash seven generations of curses, so the sooner we kill him, that's less problems you face wh... after we four are long gone and it's just you and the survivors facing one another in a brave new world."

The shrine maiden frowned, suddenly translating hundreds of hours spend blasting illusionary targets into scenes of blood and bone and guts on a mud-splattered battlefield. It was a little dizzying to be honest.

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"If we get close enough, I can send Therion after him," Vesper muses. "If they can't use magic to see him coming it doesn't really matter if we lure him out. Might even be better if he feels safe. Sends his guards out to help fight. Then? Bam. The reaper comes knocking, and he has a big fucking...curvy sword on a stick."

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Theo shook his head.  "We don't want to kill Princess Marina.   Siluca learned that she's waging war to complete the crest, subjugating everyone under the Empire, so that Elias doesn't have to.   She still loves him, though she'd deny it if pressed.  We have to crush their morale, hopefully without killing too many, or  losing our own soldiers."

Ryan, abit exasperated, sighed.  "Theo, man, you don't ask for anything easy..."   Ryan looked at the map.  "Tori and I will handle the Dragons.   Swordancer mode will be more than enough I think, if I put some real power to it, and Tori's okay with letting me try that again.  If we can make them focus on a land battle, that will limit their options.   So we'll head out soon, and do that.  While we do, Yuuki, you set your traps, and prepare.  Vesper, if you can turn invisible right?  We can drop you near the edge of their formation, and you can send Therion to pick off their sentries.   Doing that will keep them off balance, it's a nasty unconventional war tactic, but nothing saps morale like an enemy they can't fight back against.   How does that sound?"

Izona smiled, and looked to Vesper, "oh she can do far more than that, something that will really get their attention, still there's a risk.  If she gets caught,  it could well backfire on us."

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She had somehow missed the bit where the person it would be easiest, relatively speaking, to take out and defeat an army that outnumbered them at more than three to one odds was one of the person they absolutely couldn't kill.

"Shit," Yuuki cursed uncharacteristically, resting both hands on the table, biting her lip, "Lord Theo, I'm going to need... Okay... Let's say 100 men to help plant seeds, a wagon or two, full of apples and however many supplies those men will need... Oh, horses. Maybe enough of those to get around faster..? And someone who knows who knows the land enough to show me where to dig to actually help. That's important. Kami, okay... What am I missing?"

As she looked back up, forcing herself to shut up, her golden eyes flickered with a hundred unspoken thoughts. She didn't  want stay behind again while her team ran off into the fray, however smart the plan was. How wonderful the time away learning magic under Master Izona was made the guilt harder. Vesper's role in particular sounded stupidly dangerous, and the concern the shrine maiden felt for her abrasive teammate showed in the way her frown deepened when looking at her.  

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