“Oh joy,” Arin muttered sarcastically. Yes, flat stretches of dirt were better then endless dunes, but that only meant the pace would pick up. How far exactly did she plan on taking them? What was to stop her from going so far out, then turning and killing at least him, if not both? However, her promise of the flat dirt came soon enough. He had no way to tell the time out here in the desert, but by the orange tint of the sun, he speculated twilight would soon be upon them.
Looking down at his watch, William saw the hours pass and the numbers climb, approaching six in the evening. Even he had no idea how far Cadenza planned to take them out and he promised to himself that he wouldn’t ask when they’d arrive. Alas, he found the situation to become increasingly boring. Dirt, cacti, and bones dotted the landscape all in their vision. The plain probably turned into a large lake in an exceptional heavy rainfall, because the flat land continued all the way to the horizon.
“Okay, now I’m just bored,” He spoke, voicing his analysis of the situation.
He never stops complaining, does he? Whenever any little thing bugs him, it shows on his face, or he's got to open that mouth of his. Anyone could use that against him.
The woman strode out a little more, and stopped about halfway between two short cacti. She motioned to Arin and William to let their two sleds come to a rest, and drew a circle in the sand around herself with her boot. When the boy shot her a puzzled look, she crossed her arms and began to explain.
"First things first, I need to see what I'm working with here," she said. "So I'm going to stand in this circle here, and you, Signor 'Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', are going to hit me with your best spell. I promise to just stand right here in this spot and take it. If I'm still standing here when you're done, then…we have a lot of work to do. If not, well, then you will have silenced me. And Signor Nira will have wasted his time with this teacher. Understand?"
OoC: Oh, I got it, but I turned the UPS guy down at the door. x3
“Perfectly,” Arin replied. “…But my strongest spell?”
“Just do it,”’ Cadenza said firmly, her resolve unwavering.
His strongest spell? No doubt in his mind it was his Indignation attack. Of course, it wasn’t his absolute strongest, but he couldn’t use Light Cannon against her because she didn’t seem evil. Still, this whole situation had him conflicted. Sure, he didn’t like her very much, but was he really ready to give her his all and possibly kill her? However, if life taught him one lesson repeatedly, it was that people are stronger then they appear, but…
“I’m growing old here! Just pick an attack, and use it. It doesn’t get any more simple then that,” she spoke through the silence.
Pulling his staff out of his pocket, the mage willed it to lengthen, and so it did. No, he wouldn’t hold back, otherwise, she’d just get more unbearable. Pointing it at her, he muttered the short, incantation for the spell, causing the familiar purple disk to surround the woman, the orb in the center, right above her head growing and climbing higher.
He knows that high-level electric spell? William thought, raising an eyebrow suspiciously. As far as he knew, they didn’t teach the spell at any schools, meaning he had to have learned it on his own, adding to the mystery as to how he knew it. Watching the orb move to its apex, he smiled again as he correctly read that, although he could use it, he was far from mastering it due to its weakness.
“Indignation!” Arin shouted, the attack having absorbed maximum energy.
Suddenly, the orb released multiple bolts of lightning, causing everything in the purple circle to become electrified, including the gypsy. The mage, however, couldn’t stand the anticipation, looking away from the light show instead of watching it like a hawk.
OoC: Well, the UPS guy is heading back with another one.
Lightning surged down her spine, crackling in the dry desert air. It took a person with a great bloody deal of focus to make herself think clearly in those conditions.
Magically-created or not, electricity's always just looking for a way to ground itself... Cadenza thought, ignoring the tingling feeling in her joints and limbs, the question is, do I sacrifice the boots or a finger? ...Boots or a finger...hm, well, I do really like these boots...
The gypsy rose herself up into a yoga-like stance some of her old teachers back in Zhenghe would have been proud of, balancing all her weight perfectly on a single finger. The bright, frantic, white-violet electricity traveled down her body like a person repelling down a cliff, arcing away for a moment and then returning, and eventually grounded itself in the sand without much harm.
When Arin finally had the guts to turn and look again, Cadenza was blowing on a slightly-singed finger of hers, and strolling out of the charred circle of sand towards him.
"Hey, Roy G. Biv, how about next time a little something more than a light show that only kills my retinas and whatever vermin were crawling around under the sand in that circle?"
OoC: That one is lost on me. xD *Returns to Sender*
“I’ll have you know,” Arin replied with indignation. “That I have a stronger attack then that at my disposal. I just can’t use it on people who aren’t evil, which, sadly, you are not.” The fact she walked away from the attack without much more then a singed finger irritated him more then he would ever admit. In fact, deep down he wished she would’ve become as crisp as the sand behind her, until he reminded himself he’d explode without both their help.
“Really?” She spoke, walking closer. “It can’t be all that good if you can only use it in so few situations. Seems to me like you’re only trying to mask your failure.”
Clenching his fist to stave his anger, he replied through gritted teeth, “I’ll have you know it’s called Light Cannon, and I’ve used it a fair share of times, thank you very much!”
Light Cannon? That positively ancient skill? William watched on, growing a little irritated that the mage in the Technicolor robes knew skills he though only he knew. Although, if it can only harm evil, then it must be the downgraded version I wrote into a book once… but what was it’s name again? Bah, it’s not important, he pondered as the two argued.
OoC: Really? o___o Your past science teachers must be saddened if you couldn't pick up on "Roy G. Biv"--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. : P It's a device to remember the color spectrum of visible light in order of wavelengths. I thought that was widely known. *more of a nerd than she realized* ^^;;
“I’ll have you know it’s called Light Cannon, and I’ve used it a fair share of times, thank you very much!”
Cadenza almost wanted to sigh out of pity. This boy was proud, and easily-angered... she couldn't keep track of all the students that she'd had that were the same way. They had all despised her with every last fiber of their being, and had been determined to reduce her to a smoking pile of ash, or other such colorful, dramatic deaths. She made a good target for their hatred--a powerful woman they couldn't defeat rubbed their egos the wrong way. Their hatred became motivation.
She was used to it now. All she did was shrug it off, or poke them a little more, and the anger burned all the brighter.
"If you can't use it on everyone," she said flatly, "and your second best skill couldn't realistically hit anyone faster than a snail, you're in trouble. I'm beginning to doubt if you could even land one attack on me." She ignored Arin's scowl and glanced over at William, "What time is it now?"
"Six-thirty," the man answered.
"That's it, then--you have until eight-thirty to hit me--two hours. After then, it'll be too dark for you to see out here and you'll have no chance against me in the shadows." She took up a stance in the sand, her feet a little further apart. "When you're ready... we can start."
Arin smiled at this newfound permission. He could hit her with everything he had? Sounded like a plan to him, although, before he dived straight into it, he had a burning question to ask. “So… you’re going to fight back this time instead of standing there and taking it?”
“No, we’re going to sit around and play checkers all night,” Cadenza replied, her words dripping with sarcasm.
To say the least, she really started to get on his nerves. Oh, how he wanted them to begin and show her what he could accomplish. However, the lesson of never underestimating his opponent, imbedded in his mind over the years caused him to think. After all, she walked away from Indignation with naught but a singed finger. With that in mind, it became painfully obvious that if she were to try and kill him, he wouldn’t stand a snowballs chance in an inferno.
William watched from the sidelines, very interested in how this little spar would play out. As part of his abilities, he could read the magical strength of a person, even if they suppressed them with all their might. Needless to say, the gypsy dominated the battlefield, leaving only a small sliver in the preverbal pie for the strangely dressed mage.
“Well, are you ready?” She asked again, slightly impatient from the tone of her voice.
“Yeah, I am,” Arin responded, getting ready for the near inevitable defeat.
“Yeah, I am,” he said, and his voice and his stance already said he was expecting defeat in his mind. He might have wanted very badly to beat her deep down, but even so, there was no confidence to make that possible. Just a look of resignation, and this weak posture...
I'm only planning to evade and counter, but still he's waiting. Too afraid to strike first, too afraid to take a risk... we'll have a lot of work ahead of us.
I'm going to have to push him more. He should want and try to beat the snot out of me.
"If you are ready, then go!" she called out from across the sand. "Time's wasting away!"
She flickered out of sight then, appearing again in the shadow just behind him, the flat of a hidden dagger pressed against his neck. "Or are you too slow? I could've killed you a dozen different ways just now. You can't let me out of your sight like this!"
Arin turned around and swung with his staff, the crystal glittering as it formed into a sword's blade in the dying sunlight. All he struck was air and dust.
Cadenza had flipped over him, completely out of harm's way. She was smirking. "I'm not going to stand and wait for you this time, Rainbow. You're going to have to do better than that."
Gritting his teeth, the mage rushed forward, throwing sword slash upon sword slash at the gypsy when his blade was in range. Shockwaves of air and pressure flew out like edged boomerangs from his sword, soaring out to slice whatever was before them before melting away and coming back just as a plain breeze.
Not a single slash or shockwave found its target. Cadenza's movements were too quick--she easily parried or evaded every strike of the blade, and flipped over or deflected the following waves. She did it all with this calm look on her face, laughing at Arin a little and making it all look effortless.
"I'd have a better chance of getting hurt by a cactus than by you," she said, flashing a pearly-white grin at her student. "At least they're not afraid about who they hurt."
The young mage growled and swung fiercely just at chest-height, where the woman should have been, but she was already leaping up into the air, and landing on his tall hat with a crunch! sound like crumpling cardboard. The hat folded up under her boot like an accordion, springing back up when she jumped off. She knocked Arin down with a swift roundhouse kick.
"I'm getting bored pretty quickly, Rainbow!" she yelled, determined to be as frustrating as possible.
Arin picked himself off the desert floor with as much dignity as he could muster. Not an easy feat when you can’t even hit your opponent. She moved with incredible speed, so incredible only a miracle, or blind luck, would allow him to hit her. A mixture of anger and hopelessness began to foster within his mind, one part wanting to see her bleeding from ever pore, while the other told him to keep dreaming.
The lack of confidence in Arin disturbed William, to say the least. How could he teach him something so difficult when it relied on both his confidence and his mental strength? At this rate, it seemed he wouldn’t do any teaching himself for a very long time to come. He didn’t really appreciate this, since he came to actually do something, not watch or lend an invisible hand. Heck, he could do that back at work for crying out loud!
Running forward, the mage in the rainbow-soaked robes tried in vain to make a hit on Cadenza. Typically, she dodged with her abnormal speed, but this time she grabbed him by the arm, flipping him onto his back as she landed neatly on her feet.
“I take it back,” she spoke with a hint of disappointment. “A feather could hurt me more then you.”
Not waiting around anymore, he thrust his sword toward her face as she spoke. Dodging yet again, this allowed him some time to get on his feet. A pattern was beginning to emerge in her approach. Hit then retreat behind him and hit again. However, that quickly shattered ash she slammed into his side, knocking him to the floor again.
Rolling along the bumpy surface, he quickly got to his feet, the distance between them just right for a good magic attack. Pointing the tip of his sword at her, he let loose a mighty Wind Arrow. Alas, she quickly dodged it and delivered another roundhouse kick to his head.
William watched on, sitting in the dirt and making tiny castles with animate people going to war with each other. At least they were more interesting then the obvious beating taking place in front of him.
"William," Cadenza called out, easily evading another attack from Arin. When he charged again, she kicked the sword out of the boy's hand and snapped a knuckle of his with the heel of her boot, making him fall to his knees.
William glanced up from his sandcastles at the sound of the cracking bone, finding that she was looking out at the setting sun instead of Arin, with something like a disappointed frown upon her lips.
"Why are you just sitting on the sidelines?" she yelled to him when she knew she had his attention. "He's not going to be so lucky as to only get attacked by one enemy at a time. Why not mix things up a bit yourself? It might make this less painfully boring for the both of us."
William cracked a smile at this. It would be a perfect opportunity to actually show what he could do, rather then throw hints via his magical presence. “Sure, why not?” He replied, leaving the warring castles to their devices. Keeping his eyes on the mage as he crossed the desert, the gypsy parried another dash on the part of the mage.
Two on one, more specifically, two powerful people against one weak person? Talk about unfair, no matter what dimension you came from. Still, all cadenza did was parry and counter his attacks, maybe the man would do the same?
“I need something to do anyway,” he continued.
Arin took that precise moment to make a stab at the gypsy, only for it to stop, but not by her. William grabbed the very blade of his sword, and stopped it with just three fingers, clasping the sides carefully. How could he have such speed? Then without warning, the man spun around flinging his grip off the sword while he held onto it like it belonged to him. “Let’s see how you do without your staff then,” the man spoke rather smugly.
He thinks the odds are against him, and it sure looks that way for now. But William can change who he supports at any time here--there are no "sides". Truthfully, it's one-on-one-on-one, and one of these people is someone who's not showing all his cards.
That kind of uncertainty should make this even better training for the kid.
Cadenza feinted a elbow swing towards William, spinning the momentum around into a slightly magically-charged punch that went over his shoulder and drilled into Arin's chest. The blow knocked the boy to the ground, the shadow energy searing into him and making him cry out between gritted teeth.
"Either get desperate or get pummeled," his teacher stated plainly. "Don't sit around just because you don't have your weapon."
OoC: William accepts Cadenza's Free-for-all offer. =3
Arin lay on the ground, the wind knocked out of him by the ferocious attack. How could he win? Sure, he knew he didn’t need his staff to do magic, or to fight. However, he just so happened to be pit against a powerful shadow mage, and a man so mysterious he couldn’t even tell how strong he was. If he had to guess though, from his confidant demeanor, William could possibly be as strong as, if not stronger, then Cadenza.
Oh, how he wanted to just give up and go to sleep for the night. He’d never been one to fight futile battles before, but he knew they’d never let him. What was the point? ‘Get desperate, or get pummeled,’ what kind of advice was that? Still, as he rolled to avoid his face getting stomped under foot of the strange man, he could not help but begin to regress to the primal instincts of fight or flight.
He wanted to run; he could sense it. Even if he did get away, it would do him no good. If he had to, he’d drag the mage back by the collar of his flamboyant robes. As he rolled to avoid his foot, the man reacted by kicking sand in his face. “Hesitate, or react. Live, or die. In a battle where the odds are against you, feel, don’t think!” William heard Cadenza’s previous thought about this being an everyone-for-themselves spar, but he wouldn’t act on her offer yet.
It was easy for him to say that, he wasn’t the one getting the snot kicked out of. Deep down though, he knew he had a point. Thinking slowed down reaction, which would make or break a fight, cause death over life. Suddenly, as he rolled to his feet, the shadow mage charged in. Her fist full of shadow magic, he didn’t even have a second to think about it. He twisted his torso enough for the clenched fist to pass him by, just missing his chest.
Well, he actually dodged something. Looks like those words helped, but not enough as he rammed his knee into his back, causing him to fall into the gyps, who in turn fell to the desert floor. Maybe she would be a better sparing partner then him? He certainly hoped so as he moved his right hand over to her. “With time, patience and tenacity, you too could reach our level of strength, Arin Bryant.” With that, an orb of light formed in his right palm, pointed right at Cadenza. Without any hesitation, he fired, the blast catching her off-guard.
An explosion ripped the sand, blinding all vision until it cleared. Arin looked at the man, stunned at what he saw. Lying on her back, just beginning to sit up about one hundred feet away sat Cadenza. Aside from his magical presence, he had no idea what he could do until this very moment in time, even then, he probably didn’t hit her with everything he had.
He shook his head, remembering his opponent right before he had the chance to knee him in the back again, rolling out of the way to avoid it.
He’s finally beginning to learn something, William thought as he renewed his assault on the mage in rainbow robes.
OoC: I thought he might. : P It was less of an offer, and more of a "I don't trust this guy" kind of thought (hence why she didn't say it aloud), but still.
IC: Well, the bastard hit me. I called it, right? I just should've moved.
The woman rubbed the back of her head where she'd hit the sand, and stood up, cursing a little under her breath. He must be bloody fast to catch me off-guard. She fiercely kicked a shadow on a nearby cactus, and the force was sent along to clip William's legs out from under him just as Arin tried and failed to strike.
Darts of magic followed to pin the man to the desert floor as Cadenza dusted herself off and strode closer, blowing Arin away with an orb of magic.
"That was a dirty move, Will--I respect you more already for it. Maybe the boy should..." she struck the man on the ground with unexpected two kicks to the head, right in the middle of her sentence, "...learn that people won't only attack when they say they will."
OoC: Short post is dwarfed by your beastly one. X3
William smiled as she kicked him, her swift hits doing nothing more then if a fly had landed. A particularly big fly, but a fly nonetheless. “Why yes, that would be a valuable lesson to learn. We should also teach him how more advanced mages can suppress their magical presence, like so.” With that, he released near three quarters of his human magical presence, the air around his body becoming distorted as gold flames tried to ignite, but just failed.
Arin became pinned to the floor of the desert by the immense pressure of his magic. Even the sand itself seemed to cave around him, causing an indentation in the sand where he lay while the gypsy stood beside him.
Then, without any warning he appeared directly behind her, abandoning the mage’s crystal sword. Another explosion blasted in the sand, kicking it into the mage’s face about fifty feet away. Out of the cloud of debris, he saw Cadenza flying in the air again, however, this time landing gracefully on her feet. “Are sneak attacks all you can do?” She asked with a noticeable smile on her face.
“I daresay, no.” William replied, walking out of the dust while clenching a sparkling sword. Arin had no idea if the sword wanted to be pure gold, or pure silver, both metals seemingly competing for the limited space. Meanwhile, the sword’s golden blade reflected the dying sunlight almost into the mage’s eyes.
Sand whirled around like twisters of golden stardust, blocking out the sky above for a few breaths in time. Light cut through this, as sharp as the blade it came from, showing William's sword as a thin, glimmering line in the small sandstorm that was brewing.
If his sword was like sunlight, then the blade Cadenza herself drew was like its absence, a darkly-glowing cutlass that was lightweight and lethal in her hand like an assassin under the cover of night. Excess magic rode off the blade in waves as she swung it, riding out towards both Arin and William and anything else around her.
The ribbons of energy pushed Arin further away, but William simply parried or evaded them, appearing behind Cadenza with an attack of his own.
She caught his blade, the black sword struggling against his light, metallic one like a vision of ying-and-yang as they were locked together. William had the advantage in physical strength, but a quick bit of footwork shifted Cadenza's weight and made him stumble awkwardly forward because of the change in balance.
Not like I haven't come up against someone with muscle before.
He smiled, and struck at her again, but this time she leapt over his sword and landed behind him, slashing at his back. He spun around in time to counter, sweeping up a shower of dust with his swing, and was knocked back by the wave of magic that curled off the cutlass in return.
“Plenty!” Arin replied. He wouldn’t say so, but the most prevalent in his mind at that moment, ‘never piss either of you off’ burned in the back of his head. Yet, as he lay there pinned to the sand like a frog awaiting dissection, he began to observe their fighting styles. Cadenza had a pretty aggressive approach to her swings and magic attacks while William held a passive confidence that the mage grew envious of. Even though he knew jack about him, Arin could tell he had plenty more up those dirty old sleeves.
William quickly back-flipped a good distance away from the gypsy. “Good, you should be,” he responded to his exclamation. Twirling the golden blade in his hand, he slammed it into the soft sand, a quick wave of light energy radiating from the point of impact. The ground began to rock and quake as the sand began to lift from the sword the ground rose, a round rock with holes in the front, like a skull rising up.
“I’m not a one-trick pony, Ms Cadenza. Unlike you, I am not restricted to a single element.” Chips and pieces of rock flew off the massive mound, forming a vicious skull with glowing gold eyes. As more pieces flew off, it became apparent even to the weak mage that it would form into a skeleton or rock and metal. However, as the fifty-foot tall monster finished forming, William hopped off, leaving his sword embedded in the skull.
This move surprised the mage in the rainbow robes, to say the least. Why make a massive creature, only to dismount it… unless he planned to distract her.
Holding out his hand, he collected the nearby light, forming into a sword like his, just made of the element. Looking to the creature, which looked at him, he nodded, causing the monster to go into a rage-driven frenzy, running toward the shadow mage with great speed while William followed closely behind.
Cadenza simply grinned at her onrushing attackers, magic crackling between her fingertips as a short incantation rose to her lips.
...I'm a one trick pony, am I? We'll see.
There were a number of ways she knew she could deal with the monster... maybe less so with William. But gods be damned if she wouldn't pick the most ironic--there were few things she loved doing more than proving someone like William wrong. As the creature of metal and rock continued to charge, she smoothly held up a hand, seemingly indifferent to his rage, and made a show of calmly blowing magic from her palm as if it were dandelion wisps caught in a soft breeze.
What came from her fingers were not wisps, though, but rather giant orbs of water magic, surging towards the ground before the monster. In a matter of seconds, a small flood was washing over the plain of sands, turning the golden dust into a thick, deep mud. The creature's legs became entrenched in the dark muck, and he sank further and further down in the unstable earth until all that was left of him were shoulders and a skull.
William appeared leaping over this, disappearing for a moment before he landed a few feet away from the stretch of deep mud. Cadenza was there to greet him, knocking him down as soon as he'd planted his feet, and treating him to a smirk.
"Wow, that didn't look like shadow magic, did it?" she said, in a mockingly airheaded tone.
OoC: Huzzah for one of the first uses of Harmony that has Cadenza borrowing a spell from a sister, instead of the much more common opposite with a sister borrowing hers.
William laughed, moisture from the drenched sand coming over to him in a large ring of suspended water, lifting the stone monster from the sand slowly. Over time, he knew never to underestimate his opponent, and he admitted internally that he’d forgotten that. However, what impressed him the most was that she borrowed a foreign, but similar in nature technique, possibly from someone of her kin or family. Her airhead exclamation meant she had confidence in her abilities, and rightly so if she could cause an elegant fighter like him to stumble.
“Well, the sun’s going down, so how about we keep at this only a little longer. After all, I wouldn’t stand a chance against you in the dark,” he spoke. He lied straight with a straight face, knowing full too well that his powers could work regardless of any outside circumstance.
“Well, you’ve got that right,” she replied confidently.
Meanwhile, the mage in the rainbow robes, all but forgotten by the two, watched on in awe at these two highly powerful mages. How did they get so strong? What kind of attacks could they do? How could he himself get that strong? He felt so helpless in comparison, but that only motivated him to try harder in the morning.
By this time, a massive ring of water hung over William’s head, the skeleton standing still to await any orders. However, he concentrated on the ring, stretching it out, forming a head, hands and a watery mane of hair to form, and turning it into a dragon of pure water. Nodding at the monster, it resumed its charge while the dragon and the powerful mage followed.
He is, quite possibly, ten times more annoying than Zorlo. I don't think he's taken me seriously for a second here--and he hasn't had to, honestly...
She'd sunk the skeleton just moments ago, and now here it was again, facing her down along with a dragon of her own water, and William himself. Was there no situation he couldn't turn around to his advantage? It was getting ridiculous. An uphill battle where you pushed and pushed the boulder before you, only to have it roll back down the second you'd reached the top...
At the very least, I can show the kid how to keep fighting on. Risk a bit more energy than you'd like, for the sake of saving your arse.
Her lips began to move in an incantation, her eyes shut to the approaching dangers as shadow magic began to exude from her like liquefied amethyst, pooling at her feet. As words continued to fly, the energy began to take shape, first as dark, broad feet, as large as cars, and then giant legs like tree trunks of glowing, translucent violet. More and more magic poured out of the woman's petite body, building this monstrous golem, a thin shield surrounding the figure like a dome to keep William and his beasts out as construction went on.
Cadenza floated up higher and higher through the magic as the torso was finished, finally coming to rest in the place of the heart. A semi-transparent head topped the body above her, as the golem began to move, its entire body gleaming like water.
It punched through its own shield, shattering it to pieces, and crushed the rock and steel creature in a single blow. Dust cascaded down, brushing off the surface of the golem without an effect as it turned its giant body towards the water dragon, and grabbed it by the neck.
Inside the massive figure, Cadenza could hear her heart beating wildly in her ears. The amulet around her neck shimmered, as it always did under stress...
The water dragon struggled in the golem's grasp, but it just continued to squeeze, holding the beast up to the last rays of sunlight until it began to boil. Magic was being leeched from the creature, back into the statue's body, like bubbles floating away...
Moments later, the dragon was just a tiny puddle of quickly-evaporating water on the desert floor.
The golem turned then, to the small sound of William applauding.