"So, what do you think, Thiji?" asked Sakuya Mikazuki, Principal of the prestigious Anima Academy. "I believe your skills would be more than enough to tackle this mission."
"I will accept this mission, madam," bowed Thiji, a young man of 15, with semi-long blue hair. He had blue eyes and had a handsome face, and was always seen in robe.
"Good man. I will take you back to your homeland of Yukigakure. I believe that my niece, Koyuki Kazahana, has returned there from her time here in Anima. She will debrief you on the mission details, and I've also sent some backup for you as well. Have a safe journey."
In the blink of an eye, the young Prime Minister of Yukigakure would be whisked away through teleportation magic. Within moments, he was outside of a crystalline palace that stood proudly above a wintry city. This was the capitol of the Hyoga continent, Yukigakure, and the palace's name was the Uxinta-Kyuuden. The guards immediately let Thiji through, as if he were being expected by someone, which he was. After several minutes of navigating the Uxinta-Kyuuden's icy halls and glistening corridors, he would make it to the royal audience chamber, where he would find a woman sitting upon a purplish throne with a mirror floating behind her. She was a beautiful young lady with incredibly long, violet hair, clear, violet orbs, and a face as innocent as a baby's. Beside her floated a mirror that looked as though it has been a family heirloom for many, many years. Thiji would make his way down the audience chamber until making it to the steps before the throne, and kneeled low in respect for the lady.
"It is good to see you once more, my old friend! Please, do not kneel. It is I, Koyuki Kazahana, after all!"
"The Snow Flower… It is still respectful to do so." replied the Prime Minister. "It is great to see that you have returned to Yukigakure, my lady."
"Thank you, Thiji! And I am aware that you have a new mission to undertake! I shall debrief you on it momentarily!"
The Princess leads Thiji to the back of the throne room, where a secret passage gave way to a hidden room that looked similar to that of a war room. At the end of the room was a raised dais and on it levitated a peculiar-looking weapon. The shaft looked as if it were made of pure ice and three shards of what appeared to be permafrost made the pointy tip of the halberd. Two crescent blades of luminescent gold were attached on opposite sides of the halberd, and on the butt of the blade was a large tail that exhumed particles of frost. It gave off a bright blue glow as it hummed faintly. The blade itself allured Thiji and would cause him to approach the halberd. As he made his way closer and closer, he felt the temperature in the room drop until he could feel his very bones freezing, but he ignored it. He reached out to touch the blade, but he would find his hand to turn to ice as it got closer to the shaft. Preventing further damage to himself, he jerked his hand back and gazed at it as the temperature would return to normal. Koyuki would then appear beside him.
"You are not yet ready to wield this halberd, Prime Minister. But do not despair! With your skill, you will prove yourself to Icerend in due time," she spoke. "And here is the backup that I mentioned! You may come in now!"
A young man around the same age as Thiji's entered the room. He had blonde hair, amber eyes, and sported a golden-yellow hakama and sported a headband that bore the insignia of lightning.
"I present to you your brother, Raien Kotetsu, the Kumonin from Raimei!" spoke the Princess. Raien greeted Koyuki with a large bow and shook the hand of his brother Thiji.
"Thank you for bringing me here for this mission, Lady Koyuki. And it is good to see you again, Thiji," greeted Raien.
"Likewise," Thiji simply replied. Turning to Koyuki, he then spoke, "So, what is our itinerary?"
Koyuki's mirror floated to the center of the sanctum. When it reached the center, it shone brightly for a moment, catching the light given off by Icerend to project images of a large continent, and some women in maid outfits. The Snow Flower would then give her briefing…
Koyuki: All right, gentlemen! This is the world known as Midgard, a land based upon the mythology of the Norse gods! We have recently received news that a powerful entity has emerged from this land, and we are attempting to discern what this is, precisely!
Thiji: I see…
Raien: Go on.
Koyuki: The native organization known as the Kafra Corporation is a group of mainly women employees that offer a number of conveniences to adventurers, including teleportation, cart rentals, and even personal storage! I have already sent someone to earn the favor of the Kafra Corp. in order to establish a better staging point to begin your mission!
Thiji: How long has this operative been living within Midgard?
Koyuki: For about a year, now! She should have made great strides in gaining the good graces of her fellow Kafra!
Raien: So, where do come in in all of this?
Koyuki: You two will arrive in the capital of the Rune-Midgarts Kingdom known as Prontera! Locate and rendezvous with the Kafra employee somewhere in the city and she will give you an update on what is happening throughout the land. From there, your mission will officially begin!
Thiji: *bows* I understand, my lady. Shall we depart immediately?
Koyuki: Yes! The portal is right behind the Uxinta-Kyuuden! Oh, and by the time you make your way to the portal, you should have an idea as to what combat professions you two will undertake!
Raien: One more question, ma'am.
Koyuki: Yes, Raien?
Raien: Will I meet some cute women there?
Thiji: Brother… *bumps Raien on the arm*
Raien: Okay, okay! Never mind… Let's go.
Koyuki: Best of luck!
As the Snow Flower waved farewell to the two of them, they slowly walked on over to the back of the Winter Palace.
"Say, Thiji…" sparked Raien. "Haven't you been in that world before? You were a Magician, were you not?"
"I was," answered Thiji. "But I had advanced to the status of Wizard the last time I checked. For you, I think you would fit the profession of Ninja."
Raien nodded in agreement and after a moment of walking, they saw a large, rainbow-colored portal sitting before them, giving off an array of vibrant colors. "Are we all set?"
"Seem to be. Let's find our contact already!" Raien urged on, stepping into the portal without hesitation. Thiji nodded and followed suit after taking one last look at Yukigakure, for who knows how long this mission may take for them to complete…
"Farewell, Hyoga… I'll be back someday," said the Prime Minister in his mind before jumping in. As he entered the portal, he felt his body being whisked away down the shining rainbow path into a brand new world. As they traveled, Thiji would encounter what appeared to be a staff swiftly approaching him. It was an ornate-looking stave with golden rings surrounding a sapphire blue scepter.
"My Arc Wand!" Thiji exclaimed as he caught it in his right hand.
"That is a wand?" spoke Raien, grabbing hold of a large golden shuriken teeming with lightning energy. "That's more of a staff!"
Thiji chuckled as they would soon gaze upon a large city coming into view. It was a sprawling city complete with a castle and a monastery, as well as a barracks on the western end, opposite of the monastery. The image of the city drew closer until they finally exited the portal and fell from the skies above. Maneuvering themselves in the air, they had managed to land within the walls of the city – just outside of the monastery…
Thiji: Not a bad insertion point. We're not too far from the town's square.
Raien: Yes… This is Prontera, I take it? The capital of the Rune-Midgarts Kingdom?
Thiji: Correct. And now that step one is out of the way, we can begin with step two.
A bunch of pretty female Novices then walked by as they caught the eye of the blonde-haired Ninja.
Raien: I'll start with that group of ladies that just passed us. Maybe one of them is the contact we're lookin' for! *hurries off*
Thiji: Raien, wai - *sighs* Always leaving me alone to do the work… Now, where would I start…?
Surveying the area around him, Thiji made his way toward the center of town, but on his way, he would bump into a long blue-haired, blue-eyed woman whose bottom half of her face was obscured. Offering the lady up, he stretched out a hand and apologized to the woman, but she merely stared at the Wizard, frozen in her sitting position. It was then that a taller, red-haired lady wielding a lance came and picked up the blue-eyed Assassin and threatened the Wizard with a glare. She was a voluptuous woman whose form fit well in the crimson chainmail armor she was wearing.
"Watch yourself, twerp!" scolded the woman, throwing her fiery red glare at Thiji. "You owe my baby sister an apology!"
"No! No, he does not!" spoke the Assassin, finally getting back on her feet. "It was I that bumped into him! I am the one who should apologize!"
"Please, it is no trouble. I was not watching where I was going." Thiji attempted to alleviate the tension somewhat, but the red-haired lady snorted and shook his head.
"Hmph… She doesn't have to apologize to a simple Wizard," she scoffed before walking off with the Assassin. A moment later, two other women approached Thiji: one of green hair and eyes with pointed ears (an Elf, most likely), with a large grey-and-black striped hawk perched on her right arm; and a woman with short brown hair, wheeling around a cart on her left hand and hoisting a large battle axe over her shoulder with her right hand. Sweat dripped down from her neck down to her chest partially exposed by her midriff.
"Hey, there! Sorry about that. Our elder sister doesn't exactly know what manners are," spoke the green-haired Elf. She then extended her hand to Thiji and gave a smile. "Name's Elua. I'm a Hunter! This here's my sister, Aege. She's a Blacksmith! And this bird here is my partner, Mukuhawk!"
"Pleased to meet you," greeted Aege. "Need something repaired? That Arc Wand looks like it's seen better days." Thiji politely declined.
"Who were those two?" he asked.
"The red-headed diva is our elder sister, Lupi; she's a Knight. The one you bumped into is an Assassin named Heal-Do, our baby sister," explained Aege, patting her axe.
"Sounds fun. Well, I apologize for the misunderstanding," Thiji said again, waving farewell.
"Don't sweat it! See ya!" Elua shouted waving back as Mukuhawk gave a loud "Caw!" Thiji then found himself in front of the royal castle of Prontera, where a purple-haired Kafra employee was there to greet him with a bow…
Kafra Pavianne: Welcome to Prontera, adventurer! The Kafra Corporation is always here for your adventuring needs! My name is Pavianne. How can I help you today?
Thiji: Yes, I am looking for someone, you see.
Pavianne: Oh, no! Is this person lost?
Thiji: Uh, no, no. I was just asking if you have seen the person that I am looking for.
Pavianne: All right. What does this person look like? I may have seen this someone.
Thiji (thinking): Good question… I don't even know who our contact is. We don't even have any leads, and Raien's off womanizing…
Thiji: *blinks for a moment* Oh! Sorry… Um, well, all I know is that she is a colleague of yours.
Pavianne: Are you saying that this person that you are looking for is another Kafra?
Thiji: Please, don't feel offended or discouraged by this. You're doing a great job, don't get me wrong. It's just that… I'm a friend of a certain Kafra employee, but I am not sure which; I was hoping you would assist me in this matter.
Pavianne: Okay, uh… Well, the uniform is out of the question… Uh, what does her hair look like?
Thiji: I couldn't tell you.
Pavianne: Um… How tall is she?
Thiji: I… still couldn't tell you.
Pavianne: Wow… This is harder than I thought… *snaps fingers* Oh, I know! Does she wear glasses?
Thiji: I guess that she does.
Pavianne: Awesome! That narrows down our search to two possible matches: Kafra Glaris, and Kafra Nora!
Thiji jumps for a second at the mention of the latter employee.
Thiji: Wait… Did you say "Nora"?
Pavianne: Yes! Is that the person you are looking for? She's been with us for quite a while now! She's really made incredible progress and is practically a high-ranking member of the Kafra Corporation!
Thiji (thinking): Definitely sounds like her, but just to be sure… (Aloud) How long, precisely, has she been with the Kafra Corporation?
Pavianne: For about a year now.
Thiji: That is definitely her!
Pavianne: Oh, good! You're in luck; she is right down by the central square! You should see her standing right on top of the statue of Odin ready to unveil a fantastic event! We think you should participate in it!
Thiji: I will definitely consider it. Thank you, Pavianne. You have been a great help.
Pavianne: My pleasure, sir! Remember that the Kafra services are always here for you!
The two gave each other a friendly bow as the Wizard made his way to the town square of Prontera, finally getting a lead. From the corner of his eye, he would see two young men fast approaching the Wizard from the direction of Prontera Chivalry. One of them was another Knight with brown eyes wielding a peculiar blade that had a revolver for a handle. The other was a Monk that also had brown eyes and was about an inch taller than the Knight.
"Hello there. The name's Ray Kaza. This Monk here is my close friend, Lee," introduced the Knight.
"Hey!" simply spoke the Monk.
"I am a Wizard; my name is Thiji."
"Say, you didn't happen to see some blonde dude runnin' around with a bunch of women, do you?" asked Ray.
"He and I just split up a moment ago. Why do you ask?" answered the Wizard.
"We last saw him head toward the town square, and word on the street is that something big is about to go down," explained Lee. "Say, what do you think about joining up?" The Monk extended his hand to Thiji. Ray followed suit.
"I don't see why not. It is good to meet new people and make new friends," replied Thiji, shaking his hand and then Ray's. With that, they would continue their way toward the square, where a woman in an all-teal Kafra uniform with teal eyes and hair was standing atop a large statue while carrying an abnormally large scroll. A large crowd had gathered around, staring at the lady in awe as excited chatter and murmurs filled the air. Raien was seen at the front with his female entourage. As they met up with the Shinobi, Thiji introduced Ray and Lee to him…
Raien: I apologize for leaving you behind like that. You know I can't help myself.
Thiji: It's fine, though it looked awkward walking around without any sort of lead to follow. Anyway, I found our contact.
Raien: Nice! Where is she?
Thiji, pointing towards the statue: She's standing right up there.
Ray: Uh… That crazy lady's a friend of yours?
Lee: How in the hell can she balance herself carrying that large piece of paper?
Thiji (thinking): If only you two knew who this woman was…
The teal Kafra employee then unraveled her impressive piece of parchment over the statue as the crowd gasped in awe. The poster showed images of a stone of incredible quality surrounded with teal writings – the Kafra employee clearly loves the color teal.
"Hear me, people of Rune-Midgard!" cried Kafra Nora. "The Kafra Corporation, the greatest, coolest, most awesome organization that is always there for you brave adventurers, calls forth any and all guilds to an opportunity of a lifetime! Do you think your guild is the best of the best?! Do you think your guild is the cream of the crop?! Well, now is the time to prove it! Step up and step into a new challenge! That's right! A brand new war is here and is comin' right at ya'! This year, the Kafra Corporation is hosting the largest War of Emperium ever in Rune-Midgard history! We present to you all the grand opening of the first-ever guild event: The Emperium Frontier!"
"The Emperium Frontier…?" said various hushed voices in the crowd. They looked around for a moment before murmurs of agreement took the place of confusion. Kafra Nora then continued with her speech…
"This special challenge will bring three – that's right – only three of Rune-Midgard's most powerful and revered guilds from the Forest City of Payon to the Frontier City of Morroc together to battle it out for control of the Rune-Midgard territory! Claim victory in select locations and establish a lovely home for yourself and your guildmates, complete with a precious Emperium stone! This is the opportunity for your guild to stake their claim and become world-famous! The first installation is located just northeast of this fine Capital of Rune-Midgard in Mt. Mjolnir: The Emperium Fortress! Deep within this complex labyrinth full of twists and turns, there lies a special item at the very end called the Ruby Emperium! The object is simple: be the first of your respective guild to touch the crystal and your guild will claim victory as well as control of the Fortress! But be warned: you may run into traps along the way! As a further note, as the Emperium Frontier progresses, installations remain open for opposing guilds to usurp! So it would be in your best interest to invest in some defenses so as to keep your backs safe! If you are interested in seizing fame, fortune, and glory, talk to any one of our lovely associates for a free pass to Al de Baran and sign up at the Kafra Headquarters! Keep in mind that you need at least four members in order to be eligible for the Emperium Frontier! Good luck to all participants, and keep fightin' the good fight!"
The crowd gave an uproarious cheer as everyone spread out in random directions to find the closest Kafra employee they could find for entry to Al de Baran. Ray and Lee were about to do the same, but they decided to stay with their two new companions and meet up with the contact that they mentioned. When the crowd would fully disperse, Nora jumped down from her perch and landed firmly on the ground on one foot, straightening her uniform before bowing to the four before her…
Nora: Hello, boys! The Kafra Corporation is always here for your adventuring needs! My name is –
Thiji & Raien: Nora.
Nora: How did you know?!
Ray: Apparently, these two know you, ma'am.
Nora: OH, YEAH! Thiji and Raien! *hugs the two of them*
Lee: You must have missed each other quite a lot.
Nora: "Missed each other?" I haven't seen these two in over a year!
Ray & Lee: "A YEAR?!"
Nora: You are lookin' so fine, Thiji! How's the pretty little Princess?
Thiji: In good hands, thank you.
Raien: We just spoke with her not too long ago. Now that we've finally found you, you can tell us what's up.
Nora: Well, you pretty much already know what's up; I was standin' on top of a statue shoutin' out to the world! Which reminds me, are you four here to sign up?
Lee: Don't we need to go to Al de Baran first?
Nora: Nope! I have the forms right here!
Kafra Nora takes out a clipboard and a pen and hands it to Ray.
Nora: All you have to do is fill out the information here and I will send it to Kafra Headquarters! There will be a debriefing later on, so keep your ears to the skies!
The Knight takes the papers from Nora and the four of them huddle together in a circle…
Ray: Right! Let's see now… "Guild name..."
Raien: Wait. Don't we need to decide on a leader first?
Lee: I think Ray should be the leader; he's a Knight, after all, and I think he packs the heaviest punch out of the four of us.
Ray: I agree. Lee will be my right-hand man. Raien, you're a Ninja, by the looks of it. You should be in charge of recon.
Raien: Sounds good. What of Thiji?
Thiji: Strategist. I feel that part will suit me the best. In order to succeed, we will need someone with cunning and wit; someone who knows the battlefield well and can plan accordingly.
Raien: Yeah, he's already making a good point.
Ray: All right, then… Now we just need a name…
Lee: I have one! White Trinity!
Raien: Hm. I like it. The name kinda rolls off the tongue!
Thiji: Agreed. Though a trinity usually consists of three participants.
Ray: Details, details… Let's just fill the rest of this out and… there! Here you are, Nora!
Nora: Excellent! I'll have this sent to Kafra Headquarters immediately! Nice name choice, by the way! See you at the briefing! Oh, and Thiji! Try to loosen up some! You look tense again!
With a snap of her fingers, Nora opened a warp portal beneath her feet and took herself to Al de Baran. Ray, Lee, and Raien decide to wander about the city and attract recruits as Thiji diverted from the group to head someplace else. Unbeknownst to them were four figures in the shadows nearby: a Knight, an Assassin, a Hunter, and a Blacksmith…
Knight: The Emperium Fortress, huh…? It looks like it's finally time for our name to rise from the ashes.
Hunter: But what are we gonna do about those four, sister?
Blacksmith: They just might be our greatest threat yet if left unchecked…
Knight: Oh, stop sounding so scared, you two. You forget that we are a clan of battle-bred warrior women! We won't let a ragtag group of twerps ruin our good name!
Hunter: I was only asking what we should do; I wasn't afraid at all…
Blacksmith: Let's send our baby sister out to tail the Wizard. He seems to be the smartest of the four.
Assassin: You can count on me, sisters. I will not fail you!
Knight: Learn only what we need to know and get out of there before he notices you.
Blacksmith: But sister, no one has ever managed to catch our baby sister. She will surely give us the information we need without any difficulty.
Knight: All right, all right... Enough talk. Go and keep an eye on him before we lose his trail!
Assassin: Yes, sister…
The Wizard makes his way out of the city's southern gate and continues his journey south. He would cross the fields of Prontera, attracting a few cute monsters – namely Porings, Lunatics, and the occasional Creamy – along the way. He would then arrive at the Sograt Desert where he would encounter more dangerous monsters despite being docile, such as the Peco Peco, which is a very popular bird that the Prontera Chivalry use for their cavalry to ride into battle; and the Muka, which were living cacti. Fortunately for Thiji, the sun was setting over the horizon, and that would make his journey smoother so as to not fall prey to the beating sun. However, during his journey, Thiji seemed lost in thought, but he managed to remain focused enough to stay on his path in order to avoid being lost in the desert…
"The Emperium Frontier… I have a feeling that this may be the most difficult mission I have ever had to take. But with three other people watching my back, and Madam Shuji, we should be fine. But those women back there, in Prontera… I have a feeling that they will become our greatest rivals. A Knight, an Assassin, a Hunter, and a Blacksmith – that is a deadly combination with close and long-range capabilities. I will have to find a way around the strength of the Knight, the utility of the Blacksmith, the dexterity of the Hunter, and the agility of the Assassin…"
As Thiji continued thinking, he would soon find himself out of the Sograt Desert and into the territory of Payon, the town that is the home of the Archers' guild. He had made it just before dusk and was greeted by the guards. Heading northward, Thiji made it to the Archer village and immediately made his way up the hills until he made it to a vista with a large tree overlooking a cliff, giving a lovely view of the Forest town. He had laid his Arc Wand and Mage hat down beside him as he sat on his knees, trying to concentrate. "I will not fail my friends," he whispered, balling a fist. "The spirit of competition burns within my own heart! And with our new allies by our side, White Trinity shall become the greatest!" His fist turned to ice as his concentration intensified. He was definitely ready to engage in glorious battle with the best of them, and alongside his brother Raien, no less. Not a moment later did he hear a rustle somewhere nearby, which broke his concentration. Turning his body a full 180 degrees, the Wizard spoke out, "Show yourself!"
"Damn…!" hissed a voice from a nearby shrubbery. The person stood up and revealed herself to the Wizard. "I never thought I would see the day where someone would actually catch on to my presence. How long have you known that I was stalking you?"
"Since before I stepped foot into the Sograt Desert," Thiji responded. I have trained myself to become accustomed to the danger signs of Thief-class adversaries, and you've cast quite a shadow back at the Prontera Fields." He equipped his personal effects to defend himself, and stood up to face the Assassin. "If you have come to assassinate me, you have picked a bad time and an even worse person to do so!" he threatened, cold energy swirling around him as he would prepare to cast a spell. The Assassin would step out of the shadows to reveal herself – it was the same blue-haired woman that he had bumped into earlier. She removed her mask to reveal her face. Her's was like that of a doll's and had pointed ears to boot; she was an Elf just like the Hunter from before.
"I did not come to fight you!" she pleaded. Setting the testosterone aside for a moment, Thiji canceled his spell and stood down…
Thiji: Who are you and why did you take all of this time and effort to follow me halfway across Rune-Midgarts?
Heal-Do: I am Heal-Do, and I have been sent to spy on you… Thiji.
Thiji: Well, that much is a given.
Heal-Do: I honestly do not mean any harm. I come in peace!
Thiji: Sorry, I don't believe you…
Heal-Do: Wait, I –
Thiji: Cold Bolt of Ice!
The Wizard shot out a small barrage of icicles at the Assassin, who then rolls out of the way, causing the shards to pierce the bark of the tree she was standing in front of.
Thiji: I wasn't expecting to hit you anyway… I let you off easy; you have seen nothing. If I were in a fouler mood, you would have to answer to my secret technique, and I doubt that even a highly-skilled Assassin would be able to evade it!
Heal-Do caught her breath for a moment as she took cover behind some bushes. As she did, she had begun to realize that it was her "target" that was the one asking the questions instead of her, and she was the one that was supposed to gather information!
"All right… I'll talk," said Heal-Do, showing herself once again. "I work – well, I help lead a guild known as the Battle Vixens."
"My brother would be so delighted to meet you and your guild…" scoffed Thiji.
"Please, great Wizard. I truly mean you no harm! I was merely following orders…" groveled Heal-Do. Thiji had started to believe her for a second until he would see a familiar face emerge from the nearby caves.
"Yo! Thiji!" It was Ray Kaza, the Knight/Gunslinger.
"Hey, Ray," Thiji spoke back, waving to him before looking back towards Heal-Do. "Although I do not normally apologize to your kind... Heal-Do, was it? I apologize for being so rough." He then made his way towards Ray, and spoke again to Heal-Do to "Remember the name White Trinity…"
White Trinity… White Trinity… That name absorbed itself into the Assassin's mind as she got herself back up. She would then feel an unfamiliar sensation in her heart and placed a hand upon it in response…
"What… What is this I am feeling…?" she thought to herself. Shaking it off, she retreated back to her guild's base of operations, which was the Land of Destiny known as Amatsu, far to the east. After some time, night finally came as the moon shone bright over the peaceful town of cherry blossoms and towering pagodas. She stood at the dock to catch her breath after making such a long journey back home. Three women would then approach Heal-Do as she would rest her body…
Lupi: Heal-Do. Why are you back so soon?
Elua: Yeah, you're usually busy for another hour or two before you come back from your assignments!
Heal-Do: Forgive me, my sisters… I-I have failed my mission.
Heal-Do: I was unable to ger any information from the Wizard…
Elua: But he's just a Wizard!
Aege: I agree with Elua. You would have torn him to pieces with just a swing of your katars.
Lupi: Mind explaining yourself?
Heal-Do: Well, apparently he knew that I had been following him most of the day… And when I trailed him all the way back to Payon, that Knight with the weird blade appeared, and I didn't want to face two people at once.
Lupi: Grr… You should have wiped the floor with the Wizard and then assassinated the Knight! Dammit!
Aege: Hold on, big sister. Instead of getting all angry about it, we should oblige them for their insolence.
Elua: That Wizard is a lot tougher than I thought!
Lupi: Tch… We'll just have to wait until tomorrow, then.
Heal-Do, standing upright: But I did acquire some information.
Lupi: Did you, now? That's good to hear, for once.
Aege: What did you learn?
Heal-Do: He said that I should remember the name White Trinity… I think that they may rise through the ranks and earn their right to become one of the elite guilds in the Rune-Midgarts kingdom.
Elua: White Trinity? What, is that their guild name or something?
Aege: It has to be. And I bet that Wizard is their leader.
Heal-Do: What should we do, Lupi?
Lupi: I'm not one for strategy, but we should just let them have their fun for now. When the time comes, we will take them all the way down to nothing! They've not faced the Flames of Hell, Lupi; the Earth of Foundation, Aege; the Winds of Creation; and Heal-Do, the Water of Origin!
Elua: Hell, yeah!
Aege: You said it!
Heal-Do: But wait! What about the other guilds that will be assaulting the Emperium Fortress?
Lupi: Don't worry about that… The three of us will handle that when the Fortress opens. Those White Trinities will be so demoralized that they'll have to turn tail and run like the cowards they are!
Heal-Do: Wait… the three of us? What about me?
Lupi: You have the most essential part: spying on this White Trinity guild. See what we're up against. If this Thiji finds you, our cover just might be blown.
Aege: Uh, big sister?
Aege: I thought our cover was already blown.
Lupi: No, let me clarify: they only know us by name! Unless someone actually told them what guild we represent already…
The Assassin gulped at the mention, trying to keep her cool.
Elua: Nope! Don't think any of us have!
Lupi: Good, because time is getting short.
Aege: Lupi's right. We only have two days left before the Emperium Frontier actually starts. We should get going.
Lupi, Elua & Heal-Do: Right!
Meanwhile, Raien, Ray, and Lee were all in a realm known as Niflheim, the spirit world where ghosts and ghouls roam everywhere. They had decided to celebrate their guild's creation by fending off some Bloody Murderers, large monsters that wield cleavers for weapons as per the call of a Kafra broadcast. After about thirty minutes of battle, the three rested on the bridge leading into the ghost town…
Raien: That was moderately tough.
Ray: Yeah… No kidding.
Raien, pointing to Ray's weapon: What is that you're using, anyway?
Ray: Well, I figured that being a sword-wielding Knight would be boring, so I took some Gunslinger lessons, too! And in doing so, I created my own variation of the two: a Gun... sword!
Lee: Cool, huh?
Raien: That's pretty innovative. You can hit people from any distance, then!
Ray: Yeah, but I'm still getting used to it. It's not exactly easy to handle…
Lee: By the way, where is Thiji? He was with you, wasn't he, Ray?
Ray: Yeah, I was gonna go fetch him for some fun here, but he insisted on going to the Ice Caves to pick up something…
Raien: That man and his ice…
Thiji had then arrived to Niflheim via teleportation, riding on the back of a large creature with piercing red eyes made entirely of ice.
Thiji: Hello, guildies!
Lee: Uh… What the hell is that you're riding?
Thiji: Oh, this? This is an Ice Titan. I figured that since we would be the ones to seize the Emperium Fortress, we should have a nice guardian watching it over for us when we do.
Raien: Hey, that's good thinking, bro!
Ray: Yeah, well done, Thiji!
Thiji: Oh, yes… There's something else, too.
Taking out a slip of paper from his robes, he passes it to Ray as he reads it…
Thiji: The Kafra that took me here told me to hand-deliver this to you ASAP. It is a contract enabling White Trinity to have access to our personal Kafra Specialists.
Ray: Oh, sure! Let me just get out a pencil or something. In the meantime, come and sit with us. You deserve some R & R after traveling by yourself all day.
Thiji chuckled and jumped off of his "pet" and sat with his fellow guildmates as Ray signed the contract. Just as soon as Thiji would get himself settled and read from his tome, Lee sighed and got up from his seat…
Lee: Okay, I'm bored. I'm going to fight in the arena or something before it closes.
Thiji: Well, that escalated quickly…
Lee: Gotta stay in shape for the big opening! Coming, Ray?
Ray: Sure thing! I'll turn this in while we're at it! Tomorrow, we shall begin training before the Emperium Frontier arrives!
Ray Kaza and Lee wave farewell to the Ninja and the Wizard as they went back to report to the Kafra employee stationed there…
Raien: So, what now, brother?
Thiji: Well, we could go to Comodo Beach and check out a bunch of scantily-clad women in bikinis. And by "we", I mean "you."
Raien (chuckling): Oh, you read my mind! I am definitely up for that!
Thiji: Though I've nothing better to do anyway, so I may as well tag along. Come, Tiny.
Hopping on his domesticated Ice Titan, Thiji and Raien head to the nearby Kafra employees and ask for a trip to Comodo. A warp portal appeared before them and they would step inside, sending them off…
Kafra Glaris: Uh… Roxie?
Kafra Roxie: Yes, Glaris?
Kafra Glaris: How on earth did that Wizard manage to tame an Ice Titan?
Kafra Roxie: I don't know, but he paid very well for the transport!
Kafra Glaris: I guess that's true…
The Ninja and the Wizard (and the Ice Titan) would find themselves standing on the sands of Comodo Beach, delighted by the bonfire dancing and party-going…
"Go on ahead and play, Tiny…" commanded Thiji as he disembarked his Titan pet before it would walk into the ocean. However, those that were still in the water would notice a sudden drop in temperature. Thiji chuckled as he stared out into the horizon, lost in thought. Raien was seen cavorting with at least five different women by a table, making them giggle and swoon. If Thiji knew Raien well, he knew that his skills with charming the fairer sex were incredible. But the Wizard did not let himself be bothered by such trivialities…
"We need to find out the motives of that Assassin and her sisters… If they bothered sending someone to spy on me in order to find information, then they must be just as deliberate as we are in rising to fame and glory. But who knows what will happen next? We will just have to find out their motives before the Frontier actually starts, or we'll be walking headfirst into a trap…" he thought.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Raien, one of the women he was cavorting with was Heal-Do, who had blended in with the locals in order to keep her profile low. She would hear a beeping noise from her left ear as Heal-Do pushes a button on said ear to answer…
"Have you found our two little targets?" spoke Lupi from the earpiece.
"Yes, sister. The Ninja is preoccupying himself with the locals of Comodo…" answered Heal-Do.
"And what of the Wizard?"
"He's… Not even talking to anyone. He's standing by himself out on the shore. The poor guy…"
"He can grieve on his loneliness when he's dead! You know what to do." The abrasive Knight ends the transmission, and Heal-Do gave a nod as she took from her bra a set of ten individual branches. They looked dead, and gave off an eerie vibe to the ones holding them. To the untrained eye, these branches looked harmless, but what was about to transpire next would be anything but.
Heal-Do laid the branches in front of her in a row. She would then lightly press her foot down on the first branch, breaking it. She continued this action until she broke all ten, but being quiet in doing so that she wouldn't attract any unwanted attention. The broken branches then released a black, inky trail that crawled along the ground in different directions; it was too dark for the locals to take notice. Heal-Do slipped into the shadows as the magic of these strange branches would soon summon ten large monsters wielding staves. They levitated above what appeared to be a gear as chains bound them to said gear with heads rotating in a clockwise manner. A dark shadow casted itself from these large, mechanical creatures, immediately silencing all music and revelry.
"Hm? Why did everyone stop partying?" murmured Thiji. His Ice Titan pointed toward the beach and the both of them would see a group of creatures attacking the people of Comodo. The inevitable screams of terror and destruction of property followed soon after as a certain teal-haired Kafra employee stopped one of her colleagues from fleeing…
Pavianne: Nora! We have to send out a distress signal to the mainland! We're overrun with Clock Tower Managers!
Nora: There's no time, Pav! We'll have to get rid of 'em ourselves!
Pavianne: But Nora! I can't fight!
Nora: You won't have to! Watch this!
The eccentric Kafra cracks her knuckles and strolls on over to the nearest Clock Tower Manager, which immediately spots her once she got too close. The monster gave out a low growl as it rose its stave high in the air, ready to strike Nora.
Pavianne: Nora, watch out!
With a smirk, Nora tumbled to the side and kicked off the ground as hard as she could, launching herself toward the Clock Tower Manager. She gave a loud shout as she balled a fist and delivered a powerful punch to the "face" of the monster, breaking it! Nora would then somersault off of the monster and land firmly on the ground as the Clock Tower Manager slowly fell to pieces, leaving her colleague rather dumbfounded over what she just witnessed...
Pavianne: … W-Wow…! I'm so glad we have you with the Kafra!
Nora: Don't get all sappy about it, Pav! It would please you to know that I'm not like other Kafra employees! *winks*
She would then spot Thiji and Raien toward the beach and waved her hand high in an attempt to hail him. The Wizard caught sight of her, but Raien was too busy with his own problems.
Thiji: Good time for you to earn some lady points, brother.
Raien: My thoughts exactly. I'll take care of these. Do what you gotta do!
Thiji: Right. Tiny, help him out!
The Ice Titan grunted as it got out of the ocean to butt heads with another Clock Tower Manager. Raien would come across two trying to harm a group of women.
"Over here, gearheads!" Raien taunted. The monsters fell for his taunt and diverted their attention to him. As they got closer and closer, he would perform a series of ninja signs and summoned a large ninja star that was as large as he. Imbuing it with lightning energy, he shouted, "Huuma Shuriken: Raiton!" and chucked it at the pair of monsters. They both attempted to block it with their staves, but the lightning coursing from the Huuma Shuriken conducted onto the Clock Tower Managers, paralyzing them until they would finally be sliced in two by the star. They would then fall to the ground as Raien dusted himself off and scoffed, helping the women and children to safety.
Meanwhile, Thiji had finally met up with Kafra Nora…
Nora: Thiji, darlin'! You're a sight for sore eyes!
Thiji: I would say the same. What are you doing in Comodo?
Nora: I love the locale! It's a good place to rest and relax after a long day in this uniform, as much as I love it! This place is also the secondary headquarters of the Kafra Corporation! Anyway, you are obviously aware of the little situation we're having!
Thiji: Really? I had no idea.
Nora: I think we can make this work for the both of us!
Thiji: Do tell, old friend.
Pavianne: Wait a minute… What is going on here?
Nora: Hear me out, Pav: if Thiji and Raien can save the people of Comodo and drive away these Clock Tower Managers, we can give a report about the entire event tomorrow mornin'!
Thiji: And in turn give White Trinity the publicity it needs!
Pavianne: Well, that sounds like a great idea and all, but we still have at least six more Clock Tower Managers to deal with!
Nora: Trust me, Pav, Thiji and Raien can take out anything if they work together!
Pavianne: Well, all right… We'll evacuate the remaining stragglers while you and your Ninja friend take care of the monsters.
Nora: All right, Thiji, off with – wait… Didn't you have two other friends?
Thiji: They're off fighting at the arena right now, so they won't know about this, I'd imagine.
Nora: At least not until tomorrow! Good luck, you!
Thiji then went back to the beachhead, leading the citizens out as he regrouped with Raien and his Ice Titan, Tiny.
"Now this is just random… a small group of Clock Tower Managers just appeared and attack Comodo. If this were an invasion, we'd have been informed." Thiji shook his head at the thought as he rose his Arc Wand in the air.
"They're no match for us!" cheered Raien as he would charge a ball of wild lightning in his hand. "Let them taste the wrath that is the Lightning Edge!"
He had zoomed off as he closed in on two Clock Tower Managers and pierced right through them, eliminating them with little effort. Another Manager appeared just as Raien would make his descent, and whacked him with its stave, but Raien's reflexes kicked in just in time for him to parry it with his kunai. The force of the clash forced him back into the ocean, but Tiny Titan caught him and placed the Ninja back on the beach before causing a blizzard with its mighty breath, freezing another in place, and then shattered it with its shard-arm. Now three Clock Tower Managers remained, and they were all circling the Wizard. A circle of cold energy spread outward from Thiji as he cried out, "Frost… Nova!" and jettisoned spikes of ice outward from where he was standing to each monster and pierced the gears on which they levitated upon, rooting them in place. Lightning energy then coursed through his body as the clouds above gathered. A magic circle appeared below Thiji's feet as he shouted, "Thunder… Storm!" and a powerful bolt of lightning shot downward at the rooted Managers, shattering them to pieces through the power of wind. "That should be the last of them…"
"No! My ambush failed…?! Dammit!" whispered Heal-Do in his mind. She kept her head down and remained in the shadows to eavesdrop on the two.
With the minions of the Clock Tower destroyed, the people of Comodo would re-enter the beach and gave out cheers and applause to the two brave adventurers. They had basked in the praise for a good moment until Thiji would walk over to the remains of one of the Managers…
"What the hell do you think happened?" asked Raien as he approached his brother.
"I have no clue, honestly," replied the Wizard. "But random Clock Tower Managers attacking Comodo Beach? Someone had to have been pulling the strings; Clock Tower Managers just don't simply appear at a resort area! The very thought that someone has it out for us aggravates me…"
"Speak for yourself! I'm just as angry as you are!" Raien seethed.
"And why is that?" asked Thiji.
"Whomever or whatever launched that attack made my lady entourage run away!"
A sweatdrop appeared on Thiji's forehead as he walked away, heaving a sigh. Raien would then stop Thiji's movement by placing a hand on his shoulder, which made him jerk his head over to the Ninja…
Raien (alarmed): Hold it, Thiji!
Thiji: What is it?
Raien: I just sensed someone…
Raien: They are lurking in the shadows somewhere…
The Ninja scans the area until he finds a bush concealed by a shadow cast from a nearby rock.
Raien, pointing to the bush: Over there! I'm sure of it!
The Ninja then pulls out a Kunai from his belt and throws it at the bush. It pierces straight through the shrub and sticks itself on the rock face.
Raien: Damn…! I thought for sure someone was there!
Thiji: No worries. They can't stop us now that we've saved the beach from their ploy. Let's just help repair the neach for now and rest here until tomorrow.
Heal-Do would then be seen panting heavily behind the rock that Raien's kunai knife pierced on the opposite side. She was hiding in the bush that Raien had assumed someone would be there, but she was quick enough to evade his attack and avoid detection. She cursed again under her breath and, once the coast was clear, pulled out a Butterfly Wing that would take her back to her home in Amatsu.
"I can't believe that they managed to survive… Ten Clock Tower Managers?! And they stopped them all?! What are they?" she spoke to herself before vanishing.
After several hours of repairing the beach town, the two would spend a night at the inn as Tiny went back into the ocean to rest until morning. They were given another standing ovation before they would retire for the night. Meanwhile, Ray and Lee had just finished their bouts in the arena and would retire for the night as well. After chatting for an hour, they rented a room at the Prontera inn and went to sleep to prepare for the next day…
Dawn had finally arrived and the sun rose upon the Rune-Midgarts Kingdom. The light shone through the windows of the inn, lighting up the room with a glorious shine. Thiji and Raien would slowly rise from their slumber, refreshed from the sudden attack on Comodo. Letting the light shine in, the Wizard parted the blinders and opened the window and saw a wondrous view of the ocean; flocks of seagulls flew high over the waters. Taking a deep breath of fresh morning air, the Wizard turned on the television and sat down on the side of his bed as Raien was in the restroom brushing his teeth. After flipping through several channels, he would stop as soon as he saw Kafra Nora on television.
"Um, Raien? You may want to take a look at this," Thiji beckoned. The Ninja exited the restroom, still brushing his teeth as he stared at the television, wondering what was going on...
"Good morning, people of Rune-Midgarts! This is a special broadcast coming to you live from Al de Baran's very own Kafra Headquarters. My name is Glaris, and this morning's top story will be given by one of our own operatives! Live and on the scene is our very own Kafra Nora with a very special report. Nora?"
"Gooood mornin', Glaris and everyone else in this beautiful Rune-Midgarts Kingdom! What appeared to have been an otherwise peaceful party night in the pristine shores of Comodo Beach took a troubling turn for the worse when a dastardly group of Clock Tower Managers appeared straight out of thin air and attacked the town and its people! Kafra Pavianne and I were about to send a distress signal to the capital, but that was unnecessary when two adventurers were at the scene of the attack to fend off this sudden invasion!"
"No way…" gasped Raien. Thiji simply watched in silence.
"These two brave adventurers were none other than the Wizard straight from Geffen known as Thiji Higuri, and the Shinobi of lightning known as Raien Kotetsu, who are part of the recently formed guild known as White Trinity! The two of them teamed up to tackle all ten Clock Tower Managers and successfully defended the town! They did not ask for anything in return and even offered to assist in efforts to repair the town following the incident! That concludes this special report from Comodo Beach! Back to you, Glaris!"
"Thank you, Nora, and a big thank you to Thiji and Raien for their selfless act of courage. With adventurers like them out there, our streets and cities will be all the safer. In other news, the Emperium Frontier begins tomorrow! As a reminder to all participating guilds, the first installation, the Emperium Fortress, will appear northeast of Prontera city in Mt. Mjolnir. May the strongest guild claim victory in this important first step to a much greater challenge! Good luck, and thank you all for tuning in to this special broadcast brought to you by the Kafra Corporation!"
The Wizard turned off the television and sighed. He knew that he would be getting a lot of attention now, but Raien could barely contain his excitement as he fist pumped the air and gave a loud cheer.
Raien: Nice! Just think of it now, brother! We are practically famous now thanks to that random attack on the town!
Thiji: We'll be even more famous once we head to the Emperium Fortress and claim victory.
Suddenly, they heard a knock on the door.
Thiji: You may enter.
The door opens and Ray and Lee come barging in cheering for the two with a crowd of people right behind them.
Ray: Good work, you two! You guys are freaking awesome!
Lee: Yeah, taking on all those Clock Tower Managers like they were mere Porings or something!
Thiji: Wait, weren't you two at the arena last night? How did you get down here so fast?
Ray & Lee: Kafra Services.
Thiji: Oh, right, the contract…
Raien: All right, folks! Any and all questions will be answered by me, the handsome Ninja of the clouds!
Thiji: Brother, this isn't time for a paparazzi ambush… Shouldn't we be training today?
Raien: It's only morning! There'll be plenty of time to do that later!
Ray: He's right. Let's live in the moment!
Lee: I agree!
The White Trinity guild would then celebrate their heroism at the town, spending the morning chatting with locals and signing autographs for the children. Later that afternoon in Amatsu, a riled-up Lupi would be seen staring out from her window…
Lupi: Dammit… Dammit… Dammit… Dammit… DAMMIT!
Elua: Sheesh, big sis, calm down!
Lupi: Dammit, Heal-Do, you had one job! ONE JOB! And not only did you blow it, but you made those Trinities look good because of it!
Heal-Do: I-I'm sorry, sister… I did as I was instructed!
Aege: You can't blame her, Lupi. She did follow your orders.
Lupi: Yeah, but if I were in her shoes, I'd have stuck a katar through that Wizard's heart, and that Ninja would have thrown his last bolt of lightning!
Heal-Do: But you said not to let my cover be blown! So I stayed in the shadows and let the power of the Dead Branches do its work!
Aege: You did tell her to keep a low profile.
Elua: Yeah! So it wasn't really her fault!
Lupi: *growls* Whatever… They've pissed me off for the last time! Come on, sisters. We're going to have to take care of this ourselves, it seems!
Aege: Uh-oh… Lupi's angry.
Heal-Do: I tried my best…
Elua: Don't beat yourself up over it! Really, it's nothing!
Lupi: Honestly, am I the only one of the four of us that was actually favored by Mother?
Aege: Hey, Mother favored all four of us!
Lupi: Well, I am the most favored, clearly!
Aege (mumbling): Most favored tight-ass, if you asked me…
Lupi: What was that?!
Elua: She said that we should stop talking and get to work on our next plan!
Lupi: Oh… Good. Something we can finally agree on. Get whatever supplies you can. We'll march to Mt. Mjolnir before daybreak tomorrow. I want to make sure that we crush White Trinity personally…
Lupi, Aege, and Elua leave their home, but Heal-Do stood behind for a moment, thinking back on her encounters with Thiji…
"Why is it that I hesitated when I saw Thiji…? Could I possibly be –"
"Heal-Do! Come on, baby sister!" spoke Elua, interrupting her thoughts. The Assassin snapped out of it and caught up to her sisters. As they boarded the boat to the mainland, they set a course for the Merchant City of Alberta. The journey across the sea lasted until sundown and the Battle Vixens would meet up inside one of the cabins to discuss their plan…
Elua: So! What's our course of action now, big sis?
Lupi: The Emperium Frontier is bringing around the best of the best guilds to compete for ultimate glory, right?
Heal-Do: Yes… But what does that have to do with it opening tomorrow?
Lupi: I bet that right now, the guilds that are eligible are probably suiting themselves up for battle as we speak, and first thing tomorrow, they're going to march straight to the Fortress.
Aege: Okay, so where do we come in?
Lupi: Like I said before, I only want those White Trinity losers, so we'll weed out the rest of the competition so that it's just us… and them.
Aege: And when they do arrive to the Fortress…
Elua: We'll crush them with our elemental might!
Heal-Do: That doesn't sound like a bad plan… But I am still a bit unsure.
Lupi: Oh, what is it now? You really don't think they'll outsmart us, do you?
Heal-Do: Well, we never really were much for strategizing, but… Thiji looks smarter than he lets himself on. We should watch out for him.
Lupi: Let's see him strategize his way out of the four of us attacking him at once!
Aege: I'm with you, sister. Let's take it to them!
Elua: Yeah! We'll be ready for White Trinity and seize the Fortress for ourselves!
The sisters would finally arrive in Alberta and they disembarked the boat just as nightfall came. With the Kafra services unavailable at such a late time, they would have to walk all the way North to Prontera, which they did.
The White Trinity guild had finally finished their training for the day and had all regrouped in Prontera to rest again for the night; their bodies tired from the arduous fighting. However, Thiji was restless. At times before a major event, he would always stay up and witness every waking moment that he could before he would either finally succumb to sleep, or said event would finally occur. He stood upon the balcony of the inn the four of them were staying at, with no other light shining but that of the moon's and the street lights strewn throughout the city.
"We still don't know the motives of the Battle Vixens…" the Wizard thought to himself. "The competition is going to be fierce, but it's that Knight and her sisters that concern me… She looked particularly nasty."
The Wizard then noticed a pair of Swordsmen walking down the street. They were speaking to each other about a certain quartet of warrior women that they saw marching under the cover of night, heading North of the city. Though they didn't know why they were out so late. Perhaps they were hunting monsters while the hunting was good? Whatever the reason may have been, Thiji shook his head of the notion and went back into his room, closed the blinders, and went to his bed to retire for the night. For tomorrow, it would be the time for battle. The next morning, the guilds lined up at the eastern gate of Prontera as several representatives of the Kafra Corporation were ready to begin the Emperium Frontier. Crowds of people lined the streets as they waved farewell to the daring adventurers on their quest for glory…
"Hey there, you awesome people! Kafra Nora is back once more to welcome you all to the fabulous Emperium Frontier! This first installment is called the Emperium Fortress! Nestled deep within the northeastern Mt. Mjolnir, this steel bastion holds many twists, turns, and traps as the various guilds will navigate their way through this complex labyrinth to seek out the grand prize in the final room: the Ruby Emperium! Touch this sacred stone, and you will claim victory for yourself and the rest of your guild!"
The audience gave cheers as Nora pulled out a large pair of scissors to cut the ribbon blocking the way outside of the city.
"And now, without further ado, I hereby declare the Emperium Frontier… officially open!" she spoke as she cut the ribbon in half. As soon as she did, the contestants sped off on their Peco Pecos. It was many minutes later that White Trinity had just arrived at the starting gate…
Ray: Oh, crap! We're late!
Lee: That's no good. We're off to a bad start already!
Thiji: Actually, this is much better than getting trampled by the many other contestants vying for dominance.
Raien: No point in standing around, then, right? We can at least follow the trail all the way to the Fortress.
Thiji: My thoughts exactly. But let us do so quickly before we regret it in the long run.
The crowd cheered for White Trinity as they ran out of the city, their hopes high despite the fact that they were fashionably late to the start of the Emperium Frontier.
Meanwhile, just outside of the entrance to the Mt. Mjolnir area, the Battle Vixens were beginning to set up their ambush…
Elua: There! That should be enough traps to slow them down!
Aege: What do we do now, big sister?
Lupi: We wait. We will let our little surprises take care of the other idiots, and then we will lure out the White Trinity losers before they catch on to our plans!
Heal-Do jumped down from atop a high tree.
Heal-Do: They're on their way now. We came just in time, it seems.
Lupi: Thanks for the stakeout, baby sister. Now we'll just prepare ourselves to take care of anyone that survives the ambush…
They lied in wait as the long journey northward to Mt. Mjolnir led the others into the afternoon. The participating guilds would make their way down a complex trail of hills and forests as some of them would fall prey to the local fauna of the area. An entire guild of Novices would be overrun by a warren of Lunatics led by a larger blue bunny known as an Eclipse. Those that spectated laughed at their misfortune, questioning the courage of their act just coming here.
After several skirmishes around the Prontera area, one guild seemed to have been the best contender for winning the Emperium Fortress, as they have traveled the furthest out of the others. They were led by a Swordswoman with semi-long brown hair, hazel eyes, and wore a rosary around her neck. Her army had suffered heavy casualties as they fell into traps and other enemy guilds. Their luck would then take a turn for the worst when they would step into the threshold of Mt. Mjolnir territory…
"Take heart, my brothers and sisters!" commanded the Swordswoman. "The enemy knows we're here, but we must not let our resolve falter! Let us charge forth and avenge our fallen comrades!"
Her companions advanced up the hill into the Mjolnir area until moments later, they would see a hail of flaming arrows soaring across the sky. The Swordswoman and her group would take a defensive position, but they would find themselves unharmed. Instead, as they turned their bodies, they would find that the way that they just came through had been blocked by a wall of fire! She faced front again and saw the Battle Vixens standing right before the Emperium Fortress' entrance. With their only means of escape barred, there was only one option to take…
Lupi: Good shooting, Elua.
Elua: You ignited the flames, big sis! I merely help spread them!
Aege: These aren't the enemies we're looking for…
Heal-Do: But they are our enemies nonetheless!
Swordswoman: So! It is you four who are responsible for the injuries you've caused to my guild! You four shall answer for your transgressions!
Lupi: I'd like to see you try! I can sense that you're a strong sword-maiden. Good! I hate dealing with cowards!
Swordswoman: You will find that I am anything but! And now, retribution is at hand!
The brown-haired Swordswoman and her soldiers charged at the Battle Vixens head on… Meanwhile, White Trinity had made it to the forest battlefield leading up into the mountains…
Ray: Oh, my God! Look at all this!
Lee: They went all out on each other, it seems.
Thiji: There has to be some sort of explanation. Raien, would you mind scouting ahead for us, please?
Raien: Sure thing. Give me a moment.
With blinding speed, the Ninja took to the canopies of the forest and scouted northward. The other three continued through the floor…
Thiji: Hey, take a look at this.
Ray: Huh? What is that?
Thiji: This guild was formed entirely by Novices…
Lee: What?! How did they let a bunch of newbies into the Emperium Frontier?
Thiji: I don't know, but it appears that they were beaten by that creature over there that is now dead.
Ray: An Eclipse? Seriously?
Thiji: Well, in their defense, they are usually seen leading a warren of Lunatics, so it is no surprise that they would be overrun.
Lee: They should be fine, though. No fatal injuries as far as I can tell.
They would then see a flare explode in the sky. They hurried north to converge with Raien…
Thiji: What did you find, brother?
Raien: While I was scouting, I noticed that some of the branches of the trees were either snapped or taken off completely. I think that some traps were set for the other guilds.
Ray: Wow. Did you find anything else?
Raien: Yeah. There is also scorched bark and earth in many parts of this forest.
Lee: I also remember seeing a bunch of pitfalls on our way here.
Thiji: It appears that a lot of people have been unfortunate enough to fall for such tricks… But our mistake of sleeping in was a blessing, in fact. Otherwise we would have met a similar fate at the hands of whoever set these traps.
Ray: Well, nowhere else to go but forward. Let's go up this hill already!
The Gun-Knight unsheathed his blade and charged headlong to the field, but as he reached the top, he coasted to a stop. After looking at each other for a few seconds, the other three hiked their way up the hill and shook Ray lightly, wondering what was wrong. He would then raise a finger and point at the battlefield before them: a scorched plateau of splintered spears and broken banners. The ground was lined with the injured men and women that had made it this far only to fall. Some were suffering from burns; some were hit with arrows; some were bruised and scarred. In the distance was a brown-haired Swordswoman in a tattered uniform kneeling in pain by a couple of Novices.
"There's someone over there that is still lucid!" Thiji pointed out.
"Body Relocation!" shouted Lee as he concentrated his chi to instantly teleport his body over toward the injured lady and her friends. Thiji and the others ran to them as the Monk attempted to heal the Swordswoman, but she refused it.
"Please… Mend the others. They need it far more than I," she pleaded.
"What happened here, Miss?" Thiji asked, helping the young lady up to her feet.
"The enemy… They used the confusion of the forests to their advantage… Traps and pitfalls… Those that survived the primary skirmish met here on this battlefield to decide who would be worthy of making it to the Emperium Fortress right atop this plateau… My forces emerged victorious, and then…" She paused for a moment to catch her breath.
"Go on…" urged Raien.
"We continued our advance, but we were blocked by four women… One with fiery red hair and an even more fiery temper; one with hair as green as the verdant grass in a spring meadow; one with brown hair that matched the earth beneath our feet; and one whose hair was as blue as the ocean itself…"
The elite of White Trinity then had an epiphany as they all looked at each other, knowing exactly who the woman was speaking of.
"They called themselves the Battle Vixens… a guild of formidable women bred for fighting. They had barred our escape, and we were forced to fight them, but we were overpowered by just the four of them alone. Fortunately, my forces, along with the other brave adventurers that have fallen here, are not fatally wounded."
"And they did all this by themselves?" Ray gasped.
"No. This was a simple divide-and-conquer strategy. They were smart to use the confusion of the forests to make the competition thin itself out, but those traps, as Raien mentioned, were done hurriedly. I'm guessing that the Battle Vixens marched their way up Mt. Mjolnir and established their traps overnight," deducted the Wizard.
"Wait… You knew that they were heading up here?" asked the Swordswoman.
"Not exactly…" responded Thiji. "Last night, I overheard a couple of Swordsmen walking around the Prontera streets. They were talking about four women making their way north from the city under the moonlight. They assumed that they were trying to get in on some choice hunting grounds, but now from what we have all gathered, it seems that they were trying to take out the competition before they would even have a chance to enter the Fortress!"
"There is also something else that you should take note of…" groaned the Swordswoman. "Before I engaged those Vixens, they were grieving over the fact that we were not the people that they sought out to defeat in the first place… something about a White Trinity guild… You four would not happen to be of White Trinity, would you not?"
"I am afraid to say that… we are," Thiji answered hesitantly. The four adventurers' gazes would then be affixed on the hill leading into eastern Mt. Mjolnir…
Swordswoman: It was you four that the Battle Vixens were looking for… All of us were just collateral damage. I do not know what they want from you, but they must be stopped; you must win and seize the Fortress from them… I must take care of my own and fall back to the capital to recuperate.
Ray: You don't have to tell me a second time! They won't get away with this!
Lee: Right behind you, Ray!
Thiji: Here, Miss. Take this.
The Wizard takes an item from his robe and places it before the Swordswoman.
Swordswoman: A… A white potion…? These do not come cheap...
Thiji: You will need your strength for the journey back to Prontera. Please, take the potion.
Swordswoman: Bless your noble souls… Such selfless acts are smiled upon by the brothers and sisters of the –
Raien: Brother! We have to get going before they get to the Fortress!
Thiji: Oh… right. My apologies, Miss.
Swordswoman: No. The Ninja is right. Go on. I will be well, thanks to you four. Good luck, White Trinity.
The four made their slow hike up the hill, leaving the recovering Swordswoman be. As they did, they would form up for a battle plan…
Ray: Okay, Thiji. You seem to have gotten the most contact with these Battle Vixens between the four of us. What's our plan?
Thiji: Listen: these four are tougher than they look, even though I have only met them for a few moments. Each one of them represents a particular element. One of them is a Knight that uses fire attacks. She is also the eldest sister of the four, which would make her the leader. The second oldest is a Blacksmith that is associated with earth.
Raien: Well, that seems fitting.
Thiji: The third is a Hunter of the winds and has a large hawk as her companion. From what we've seen, she likes using her bow more than using traps. And lastly is the blue-haired Assassin.
Lee: She's their baby sister and uses water, I presume?
Thiji: Correct. This composition is well-rounded, enabling them to fight at any distance. It will be difficult getting close, but with the tactics they've executed, they are merely child's play compared to what I have in mind…
Lee: "Child's play"?
Raien: My brother Thiji here is more than he lets on to be.
Thiji: And we also have several factors that they do not possess: Magic.
Ray: Well, then, tactician. What do you have planned?
Thiji: I am glad you asked. Now, listen closely…
Meanwhile, at the top of the plateau, the Battle Vixens stood side-by-side, awaiting any further resistance…
Lupi: Tch… we did all that for nothing. I guess we scared off those Trinities after all!
Aege: That Swordswoman and her ilk gave a good fight, though. Better than the others.
Elua: Too bad that we were just too strong and sexy for her!
Lupi: Yeah, but what can you do…
Lupi: Say something, baby sister! We're gonna win this now.
Aege: Yes, you should be happy!
The Assassin didn't say a word.
Elua: Ahh, well. Maybe she's tired from all the fighting. Can't blame her! Let's head in the Fortress already.
Lupi: Good idea.
Just as Lupi, Aege, and Elua would turn and walk into the Fortress, Heal-Do lifted her head and saw four men slowly approaching.
Heal-Do: Wait, sisters! Here… Here they come.
The other sisters would fall back into formation as they stared down the brave White Trinity quartet that stood between them and victory. A cool mountain breeze rolled down through the field and past everyone's hair and clothes. After days of preparation, this moment had finally arrived – two guilds, one of no small renown, and one that quickly gained renown through their heroic efforts, meeting face-to-face on the field of battle. Of course, no matter who would win out here, would still have to face the dangers of the Emperium Fortress.
But why did the Battle Vixens not take upon the chance to win? Why did they insist on waiting all day on the one guild that would be a potential threat to them? These questions would soon receive answers, and this inevitable conflict would be the premise of said questions…
Lupi: Well, well, well. I never thought you guys would show! I mean, I was hoping that you guys would, but we thought you'd be scared!
Ray: Scared? Me? I'm a Knight! I fear nothing!
Aege: You'll soon fear us.
Thiji: I met the four of you back in Prontera.
Elua: Indeed! We could have been friends, you know!
Thiji: But since you know only me out of the four of us, allow my friends to introduce themselves.
Raien: I am Raien Kotetsu, Shinobi of the clouds.
Lee: Monk of Saint Capitolina Abbey, Lee.
Ray: Ray Kaza, Knight adept of Prontera Chivalry!
The Battle Vixens would respond in kind...
Lupi: I am the flames of hell – Lupi Flametress!
Aege: The earth's foundation – Aege Stonebreaker!
Elua: The fabulous winds of creation – the beautiful Huntress, Elua Windsong, and my loyal companion, Mukuhawk!
Heal-Do: And I… am the waters of origin – Heal-Do Bluesteel.
The two guilds would stare each other down for another moment before unsheathing their weapons.
Thiji: You still want to get back at me for bumping into your baby sister?
Lupi: You bet your ass, I do!
Thiji: Then come, Lupi… come, then, and finish it.
Lupi: Hahaha! Yeah, right! I'd like to see you try to hit us from way over there!
The Wizard gave a smirk, and suddenly Ray would raise his blade in the air as if ready to attack…
Aege (Sarcastically): Oh, watch out, girls. That Knight's gonna throw his sword at us!
Ray then swung his sword to his left toward Raien, who then ducks!
Heal-Do: They attack their own allies?!
As Raien remained in the crouching position, Ray's blade would cause him to spin. As he did, he detached the hilt of the blade and fell to one knee. Facing forward once more, his sword came full circle as a revolver was seen on his right hand! With careful aim, Ray whispered, "Bull's Eye…"and shot a bullet right down the middle between Aege and Elua. Both sisters moved to the side to dodge the attack when Raien would suddenly vanish out of thin air. As he did, however, a static noise filled the air as he rapidly reappeared several yards in front of the Vixens. Raien smirked as he ran full speed towards them. Heal-Do acted fast and pulled out three daggers to attack.
"Venom Knife!" she cried as she tossed them. Each dagger would puncture the Ninja, whose body would then disintegrate into paper.
"What the hell?!" Lupi cried. Raien would then appear once more right above the four ladies and with a series of flips, landed right in front of the Emperium Fortress.
"Cicada Skin Shed!" the Ninja chuckled as he ran inside. This made Lupi furious as she and her sisters had been played. Lee would then charge forth into the fray, headfirst into the Battle Vixens. Aege raised her battleaxe in the air and cried, "Adrenaline Rush!" When she met up with the Monk, Lee would shout, "Flee!" and his quick reflexes would be more than enough for Aege's quickened swings.
"Why… won't… you… stop… Moving?!" Aege grunted as she missed every swing. The Blacksmith would then raise her axe once more in the air and slam down upon Lee, who would then raise his hands in the air as if to catch it.
"Blade… Stop!" the Monk shouted as he literally caught the axe blade with his knuckles. Once he had done so, Aege tried her hardest to move, but she couldn't!
"C'mon, Aege! Let him feel the strength of the Earth!" cheered Lupi.
"I… I can't…!" the Blacksmith replied, grunting with effort. Lee then gave a wink as he disappeared into thin air, reappearing right behind the other two sisters. He gave the peace sign as he dashed into the Emperium Fortress. Lupi groaned in frustration as she ordered Elua and Heal-Do to chase after the two. Aege would do the same, but she would be stopped by Lupi…
Lupi: Hold on, there, little sister. We still have these two runts to take care of!
Aege: Yeah, you're right. I'd hate to leave you alone, even though you sometimes preferred it that way. So, what's the plan?
Lupi: Get the Wizard. Then that Gunslinger… Knight… whatever he is, will be defenseless!
The two reformed the line as they stared at the remaining two Trinities. With their weapons unsheathed, they stood ready to charge… and so they did. Ray would then regroup with Thiji as they stood ready to defend themselves…
Thiji: It is as I feared… they sent their two fastest inside to intercept Raien and Lee.
Ray: Well, they still have us to deal with! And I don't think we'll be getting through unless we fight them, first.
Thiji: Yes, but those two are powerhouses. We have you, and then there's me, a magic user.
Ray: Yes, but as you said, you're not like other Wizards, right? So there's no excuse for you to hold back; show off some new tricks, why don't you?
The Gun-Knight would then take out a coin and flip it a number of times until five coins would appear around him, revolving around the man in a circle.
Thiji: Well, if you say so… though ice is my specialty.
Ray: Well, tell you what, Ice Man, I'll make you a deal: I'll keep them off your back, and you back me up with magic. Sound good?
Thiji: That is a good tactic for this situation…
Ray: Good, because here they come!
With sword and gun in hand, Ray defended himself from Lupi's initial attack as he aimed for the Blacksmith behind her as the chamber of the gun "absorbed" a coin.
"Triple Action!" With three consecutive shots, Ray would attack Aege, but she would hold her axe up to her face to deflect them. This would halt her advance; however, as Thiji would cover for Ray with a blast of… nothing. Lupi would then feel her armor taking a hit, and then another, with each following hit pushing her away from the two.
"What… what is hitting me?!" she gasped.
"Napalm Beat!" replied Thiji, who would then conjure a fireball as it revolved around him – a spell Magicians know called Sight. Ray retreated as he covered for Thiji, but Aege would attack once again, but this time, she wasn't playing around.
"Hammer Fall!" cried the Blacksmith. The battleaxe she wielded turned into a large hammer, and she descended upon them ready to use the force of the earth to eradicate the both of them, but Thiji stopped the fireball and formed a ring of flame around him as it spread outward in all directions.
"Sightrasher!" The flames would force back Lupi, but she took no damage whatsoever from them. Aege, however, took the full brunt of the attack and was pushed back even further. Ray would take up this chance to attack the falling Blacksmith with his blade…
"Using fire? On me?! You people are so dull!" scoffed Lupi, preparing to strike Ray with his lance before he even got to Aege. But Thiji had other plans…
"Jupitel… Thunder!" Thiji cried as he pushed Lupi to the side. Down from the heavens came a bolt of lightning to assail the Knight, but she would tap into her inner resolve as she used the Knight skill Endure, and rushed toward Thiji.
"Bash!" yelled the Knight, slamming down her lance upon the Wizard. With quick thinking, Thiji raised his Arc Wand to defend, which surprised Lupi…
Lupi: What the hell? You… actually blocked my strike?
Thiji (straining): Yes… What of it?
Lupi: Never in my life have I fought a magic user that actually participates in melee combat…!
Thiji: I'm getting tired of saying this, but I am not like other Wizards.
Meanwhile, inside the Emperium Fortress, Raien and Lee were being chased down by Elua and Heal-Do, avoiding traps, deadly pitfalls, and arrows along the way…
Lee: Hey, Raien! Keep them off us! I need more Spirit Spheres!
Raien: You got it… Shocking Petals: Lightning Style!
With quick hand movements, the Ninja sent out a barrage of electric flower petals at the two sisters.
Elua: Blitz… Beat!
Empowering her falcon, Elua sent Mukuhawk out to assail the two. Raien kept attacking with his Golden Flower Blossom, but the falcon expertly dodged them, closing in on the Ninja. Lee pushed him out of the way and absorbed his spirit spheres into his body, hardening his skin as he put up both arms in a defensive huddle.
"Steel Body!" Mukuhawk collided with Lee as he struggled to fight off the falcon's attack. The force of the Blitz Beat caused the Monk's feet to slide across the floor, kicking up a trail of dust behind them. It was Heal-Do's turn now, and she used the shadows to cloak herself. Raien tried to catch up to Lee, but he found two more arrows soaring toward him, which he deflected with his kunai. With this distraction, Heal-Do appeared behind him and attempted to strike with her Katar, infusing it with water energy. His reflexes kicked in once again and with deft hand movements, he slammed his hands into the ground and shouted, "Reverse Tatami!"
"Whoa! Whaaa!" screamed Heal-Do, being bumped back by the sudden tatami mats that appeared on all sides of the Ninja. Elua called Mukuhawk back to catch Heal-Do's fall as Lee tripped and fell on his back, but immediately got up to summon more Spirit Spheres.
Lee: These two are pretty fast…
Raien: Yeah, but we're faster. Come on! We're halfway there! Thiji mentioned something about a switch near the end of the room where the Ruby Emperium is. If we can flip it, they can get through this place without worrying about the traps!
Lee: We'll split up, then.
The two of them nodded and took separate corridors. Elua (and Mukuhawk) immediately broke off to pursue the Monk, whereas Heal-Do went to face Raien. Back at the entrance, Ray and Thiji were gaining ground until they heard the ground beneath them shake. They ceased combat for a moment and saw Thiji's Ice Titan in the distance.
"What in the fuck is that?!" said Lupi, her eye twitching.
"… That's my pet. His name's Tiny. And he's happy to see you," answered Thiji. The Ice Titan gave a mighty roar as it charged straight for Lupi and Aege. The Blacksmith grabbed her cart and ran at full speed.
"Cart… Revolution!" screamed Aege, jumping high into the air with her cart to slam down upon the Ice Titan with all her might. She managed to chip off a few shards before Tiny grabbed her and threw her toward the walls of the Fortress.
"How dare you treat my sister like that?! You are so dead now!" scolded the Knight as her anger manifested into flames. With her entire body wrapped in fire, she charged straight for the Titan. Her lance would glow with energy before she would stab it into the ground in front of her.
"Magnum… Break!" With Lupi's fiery might, the Ice Titan would be engulfed in flames, and it would feel itself starting to melt! "Burn to the ground, you bastard!" chuckled Lupi as she turned up the heat.
"No! Your titan, man…" Ray sighed. But Thiji didn't care. He knew that sooner or later, his Titan would have to be defeated one way or another… which is why during the entire time the Titan had been fighting them, he was conjuring up something powerful…
"HAH! You like that?!" Lupi shouted as the Titan would give another roar in pain before fully melting into water. With a triumphant laugh, she hoisted her lance over her shoulder, but then she saw Thiji surrounded by a large veil of frost energy…
"Your strategies are mediocre…" spoke the Wizard. "Your tactics are flawed… your recklessness blinded you… and now it shall be your downfall. Do you want to know why I am so very different from other Wizards? Do you want to know what I can do, what I am capable of?! You shall all have your wish!"
Channeling the spirit of frost through him, Thiji called forth a powerful gale of snow and ice. The trees and the grass blew violently from the immense power of the storm. Lupi would yell triumphantly and ran full speed toward the Wizard, but he was now ready to unleash his frozen wrath upon the Battle Vixens' leader.
"Behold… the Frost Tempest!" boomed Thiji as his voice echoed and bounced off the walls of the Fortress. Sending the blizzard out towards Lupi, the Knight's advance would be slowed greatly to the point where she would be forced to stop, and as she felt the cold air around her, Lupi gritted her teeth and slammed her Lance into the ground, trying to hold on to solid earth, but the might of the storm was too much for her, and she would be swept from her feet, along with Aege. With a loud yell, Thiji threw the tempest – and the two sisters – inside of the Fortress as a loud thud was heard from within.
When the spell was over, Thiji closed his eyes, suffering from light exhaustion. Ray was dumbfounded at the power of the Wizard and applauded him.
"Well, now I see why you're different from other Wizards," chuckled the Gun-Knight. "Well, let's head inside and find the others."
Thiji agreed with a nod and the both of them ran inside, taking a brief look at the unconscious Lupi and Aege crashed against a wall. Meanwhile, Lee was doing his best to evade Elua and Mukuhawk's assault, though he had a few arrows in his shoulder as well as his knee.
"You know, an arrow to the knee isn't really all that bad…" he mumbled. Refusing to back down now, he turned and countered with his Finger Offensive, sending his summoned Spirit Spheres to attack Elua. Each hit would connect with Elua's body, slowing her down considerably, and she would fall to her knees. "Hah! Sucker!" taunted the Monk, taking another turn. Elua simply scoffed. Looking up to the ceiling, she drew her bow and gave a chuckle of her own.
"Don't you rule me out yet, you Tae Kwon Dope…!" grunted Elua. With Raien's situation, however, he would find himself locked in melee combat with Heal-Do, Kunai and Katar clashing, leaving sparks everywhere from the colliding steel.
Heal-Do: Where is the Wizard, Thiji?
Raien: Who wants to know?!
Heal-Do: I do!
Raien: Why should you care anyway?!
She paused for a moment and stopped her attack. Since they were moving while fighting, Raien would find the master trap control switch at the far end of the corridor.
Heal-Do: I… I don't know why I – HEY!
The Assassin spotted the Ninja sneaking away and pointed her Katars at the man, summoning a wave of water. The tsunami was closing in on Raien, and he had to deactivate that switch in order to ensure safe passage for Thiji and Ray. He tried to reach his hand out to it as he ran closer and closer, but he knew it was folly. So, he used Reverse Tatami once more and broke a tatami mat and hopped on the wave, using it as a surfboard. The tsunami carried him to the end of the corridor when it crashed into the wall. He jumped off of the mat with a somersault and popped the hem of his gi.
Heal-Do: You survived? What… What are you people?
Raien: We're the Battle Vixens' worst nightmare, Water Elf! And now to deactivate the – oh shit…
As the Ninja turned around, he would find that the master trap control switch was malfunctioning because of the water that permeated into the circuits. Then he would look at the Assassin , who would meet his gaze, and at an instant, they would cloak themselves to dodge a wall of spears and made a mad dash to the end. Now it was a race to the Ruby Emperium as every trap in the Fortress would go haywire. At Lee's end, he jumped an entire mess of pitfalls and slid under obstructions jutting out from the sides.
"Raien!" he shouted. "What the hell did you do?!" He would then run past the malfunctioned control switch and gave a sigh. "So that's why these things are going out of control. But before he would proceed down the corridor, he'd bump into Thiji and Ray, whose uniforms were punctured with holes or slightly scorched.
Thiji: What on earth happened here?! You were supposed to go after the –
Lee: Ruby Emperium, I know! But we split up and apparently one of them broke the master control switch!
Ray: Uh, guys?
Thiji: And there's no possible way of fixing it?
Lee: No! It's totally broken now!
Ray: Guys, there's a wall of fire coming straight towards us!
Thiji: Good time to run, then.
As the four sped off, they would hear sounds of battle ahead. It was Raien and Heal-Do locked in combat once more. She had stopped the Ninja right before the entrance into the final room where the precious prize lied in wait. Raien used his ninja tactics to outmaneuver the Assassin and delivered a dropkick to her chest, sending her flying through the entrance and breaking it. The three gave a cheer as they evaded the remaining traps and the wall of fire that chased them.
Thiji: Good show, brother!
Raien: It was nothing.
Lee: You did well! And now we can finally seize that stone!
Ray: Just think – the Ruby Emperium is right down this hall.
Thiji: We can admire it after we take it for ourselves.
The four stepped into the threshold. At the far end of the chamber was a stone giving off a bright, crimson glow – the Ruby Emperium. Taking a few more steps forward, they would feel the aura of the Ruby Emperium washing over them, when suddenly Raien would be flash frozen in a block of ice! Ray and Lee jumped in surprise from the matter, but Thiji simply gave a troubled look. How did a Ninja of Raien's caliber fall for such a simple trick?
"I thought we had bypassed all the traps at this point!" Lee said as he surveyed the room.
"We did. That wasn't a trap set by the Fortress itself…" the Wizard explained. At that moment, a falcon would soar over them. It was carrying two other people as it swooped down and released them from its talons. It was Lupi, and Aege, with Elua leaping over and landing in front of them, with Heal-Do regaining consciousness and walking over to her sisters to face down White Trinity once again…
Lupi (panting): You… You four are gonna get it now… Your little lightning Ninja is now incapacitated, and you're outnumbered and outmatched!
Elua: Like my little trap, hun? I decided to give you a little present after rudely assaulting me with those little floating balls of yours!
Ray: We've beaten you before, you know.
Lupi: Yeah, but you caught us off-guard. Here, you have nowhere left to run!
Aege: Now we will finish this – on our terms!
White Trinity and Battle Vixens meet again on the field of battle. They stared one another down again as they felt the Ruby Emperium's aura emboldening them with the spirit of battle. The Gun-Knight, Ray Kaza, locked eyes with his female counterpart, Lupi; Lee the Monk would meet the gaze of the Elven Huntress Elua, and her falcon, Mukuhawk; Thiji, the ice Wizard, would meet the eyes of the Elven Assassin Heal-Do, and Aege, the Blacksmith, would affix her gaze upon… an empty space adjacent to Thiji.
Aege: Hey, there was a "Ninjasicle" right next to Thiji!
Lupi: Huh? What – where the hell did -?!
Ray: WHOA! Where did Raien go?! Did he blow up without us noticing?
Elua: I saw him frozen just a second ago! Where in the world could he possibly be?!
Raien (echoing): Right behind you…
The Battle Vixens turned their heads slowly and saw Raien standing right beside the Ruby Emperium.
"Hahaha… what you had trapped was an Illusionary Shadow… a Mirror Image," Thiji explained. "Note the bluish glow that came from the copy before it vanished. While we were all locked in our little staring contest, the Ninja's soul was released and snuck by the four of you. When he would reappear, the double would vanish. Once again, you have fallen victim to my strategies. Raien, if you would be so kind."
The lightning Ninja gave a bow and lifted a finger. Lupi roared angrily and tried to charge at him with her lance, but before she would even get close, Raien had touched the stone, and that caused the eight of them to be teleported out of the Fortress and back to Prontera, where they would see a large crowd cheering for them with the Kafra ladies at the van, applauding them. A sense of pride and satisfaction made itself evident in the hearts of White Trinity as their superior teamwork had helped them win this day, and get back at the Battle Vixens for their deeds.
"We have a winner!" announced Kafra Nora. "White Trinity has claimed victory over the Emperium Fortress! The Ruby Emperium is now theirs! This guild that had just been made only days ago has blown the minds and captured the hearts of millions! They will forever go down in history as the Emperium Frontier's Inception Victors! Congratulations, Ray Kaza! Congratulations, Lee! Congratulations, Raien Kotetsu! And congratulations, Thiji Higuri!"
The defeated Battle Vixens would dust themselves off and disappear into the crowd, disgusted by their loss.
Lupi: Come on, sisters… From this moment on, this means war.
Aege: Damn right. They're good… very good.
Elua: But we'll beat them! (Shouting) This isn't the end of the sexiest guild alive!
The three left the immediate area, but Heal-Do stayed behind for a while longer to gaze at Thiji. She gave a warm smile to the Wizard, though he did not see her. The Assassin was clearly happy for his victory, despite the fact that they're practically sworn enemies now. But who knows if they will ever meet again? This thought saddened her somewhat, but she tried to motivate herself that she will indeed meet Thiji once more – perhaps on lighter terms. She nodded slightly and followed her sisters back home as the crowd continued to cheer for the winners of the Emperium Frontier.
The Swordswoman that they met back at the plateau was also amongst the crowds, with her two Novice companions cheering them on. Reaching into her uniform, she would pull out the rosary that was concealed beneath her armor and focused on it for a long moment before staring back at White Trinity…
"They have redeemed the honor of many brave adventurers this day… White Trinity is truly making a name for themselves now. However, I feel that they may one day become a threat to us… The tides of war will reach out to our order. I can only hope that I will have the strength I seek to defend my friends… and to fight for him…" said the Swordswoman in her head.
After spending the remainder of the day celebrating, the sun would set and give way to dusk as a party was given out in White Trinity's honor. Thiji tried to keep himself away from all the festivities. Raien, however, was in the nitty-gritty of it: flirting with women and showing off his Ninja skills for them; Lee and Ray were laughing and enjoying themselves as they told tales about the fights they experienced to the locals. Thiji had even gotten a couple offers from some female Mages to teach them a thing or two about magic whenever he would next stop by the city of magic, Geffen. He considered it, which made them all giddy with laughter.
Thiji left the square and gazed upon the moon rising over the brilliant Monastery. He was going to miss this world for he had enjoyed his time here a whole lot. With a heavy sigh, he turned away and walked back down the streets until he ran into Nora midway…
Nora: Whoa, whoa, hey! Easy there, Thiji! Why are you all packed up and whatnot?
Thiji: Our mission here is done, is it not? We saved some innocent people from a quartet of female brutes, and won a nice souvenir as a prize. I had imagined that the Battle Vixens were the "powerful entities" that Lady Koyuki had described to us in her debriefing.
Nora: Uh, actually… They aren't.
Thiji (in disbelief): They aren't?
Nora: Nope! Remember that I've been here for a good while now. I've seen those Battle Vixens here and there, and they're far from evil! They're just battle-hungry sex symbols, is all!
Thiji: Well, that much is certain…
Nora: But hold on a second. Hear me out! The Emperium Frontier was a smashin' hit as I had anticipated! But I have planned out more than just the Emperium Fortress! And the fact that the four of you are attractin' all this publicity, it's makin' not only you look good, but the Kafra Headquarters has even offered me a seat in their executive branch because of the HUGE success brought on by this!
Thiji: I am glad that I was able to be your guinea pig, Madam Shuji. But if we were to insist on continuing with this… wouldn't we inevitably run into the Battle Vixens once more?
Nora: Oh, for sure! Now that they've found a guild that is a threat to them, they will most definitely be fighting you tooth-and-nail-like!
Thiji: Right… So, you want us to milk this cash cow of yours until it's dry?
Nora: No! No, no! Well… I wasn't plannin' on making money out of it, but since you put it that way…
Thiji: Hahaha… then our mission here is far from over, it seems.
Nora: Yup! And we both know that you love this world to death! So this is the perfect time to enjoy it! Until then, there's a party with our name on it!
Thiji: Hm. Right…
Nora: In the meantime, thank you for using the Kafra Services! Have a splendid night, Lord Thiji!
With that, Kafra Nora gave a bow and made her way back to the town square. She was right, after all: Thiji indeed enjoyed being in Midgard. The fact that he would be able to stay longer gave him a faint sense of elation, but the looming threat of the Battle Vixens, as well as any other troubles they may face along the way would immediately erase that feeling from his mind. But he didn't want to think too much of it. Right now is all that matters, and Thiji Higuri, Wizard and strategist of White Trinity, with the Ruby Emperium in hand, would be more than ready to face whatever lies ahead.
With a faint chuckle, he put the crimson mineral back into his robe pocket and went back to the square to join the festivities…
To Be Continued…