Pumpkin King

Chapter 73

Throughout the chamber, wizard met wizard in heated combat. In the center, Jacky and Hyde fought viciously. Scythe met gun in a clash of magic and steel as each sought to overwhelm their adversary.

At first glance, it would seem that Jack had the upper hand. He cut and slashed at Hyde with such speed that it was difficult to follow with the human eye. However, he had yet to land a single blow. If someone looked closely, his swings were far too exaggerated for a wizard of Jack's caliber. But he wasn't focused solely on attack as he should have been. His swings were so long because the momentum would take 'Pumpkin Head' farther than intended so that the blade would follow through behind Jack so it could block incoming bullets fired by Hyde's arsenal. He was trying to push back Hyde, but he was also trying to defend himself at the same time.

Hyde himself had yet to move from his original spot. He used the gun in his hand to block and parry Jack's blows to the side. He did it with comparable ease compared to the effort Jack was putting in to keep the bullets off his back.

"Face it, Jack." Hyde gloated. "You can't beat me! Fighting as furiously as you have, you still haven't manage to move me even one step." He caught the blade of 'Pumpkin Head' on the barrel of his gun. Pushing it to the side, he freed his gun and pointed it directly at him. "Guns Magic: Mega Flare!" He pulled the trigger and a beam of concentrated magic shot out of the barrel. It was white hot and vaporized even the molecules in the air.

But Jack sensed the danger. Just as the shot was fired, he used his excess momentum to spin in a circle and slash at the beam. The scythe's blade cut it in half, causing it to flow harmlessly to the sides. The two beams flew into the wall behind where the Pumpkin King wizards had entered the chamber and exploded in a flash of light, heat, and fire.

Erk and Dante, who had been closest to the explosion, were tossed backwards by the force of it. Their opponents, Rey and Raina, managed to brace themselves just before it happened and managed to stay on their feet despite the force.

"The hell was that?" Erk groaned as he pushed himself to his feet. He was happy he had his goggles on otherwise he might have gotten some debris in his eyes.

Dante shook some dust off his shoulders. "No idea. But if I had a guess," he glanced over at Jack and Hyde, "I'd guess the old bastard with the short hair. Holy hell!" He raised his gauntlets just in time to block a razor of darkness from giving him the closest shave of his life.

"Look away and you're dead." Rey chided. He flexed his fingers and claws of darkness covered his hands. "Even as a sanctioned Guild wizard you should know that."

Near them, Erk was scrambling among the graves in an attempt to avoid Raina's attacks. He was just barely ahead of getting electrocuted by her strange, green lightning. He had seen what it had done to Will and he was in no rush to experience it firsthand.

"Damnit!" He groaned as he ducked behind a gravestone. "These stupid things are in my way." He smacked the slab of stone just as another bolt of lightning destroyed it. Erk had to scramble to find another for shelter. They might be keeping him alive, but they are also preventing him from fighting back. "How can I be expected to use my magic if these gravestones are everywhere? I can't pick up any speed like this."

"Agreed." Raina said flatly. "They are in my way. I can't kill you if you keep hiding behind them." She raised both hands and green lightning arced between them. "However." She lashed her hands out at Erk. "Petrusite Chain." Erk tensed as the lightning shot towards him, expecting the gravestone to protect him again. But it didn't explode like it usually did. The lightning crashed into the stone, but then it went through it to connect to Erk.

He didn't feel any pain at first. He just stared at the bolt as it protruded from his chest. Looking up, he saw Raina snap her fingers. The chain of lightning exploded, sending volts through both Erk and the tombstones.

It was some of the worst pain he'd ever felt. It was like every cell in his body was screaming out in pain. He would have screamed with them, but his jaw locked shut as the electricity coursed through his body. Seconds ticked by until it finally ended. Erk collapsed on the ground and trued to resist the spasms that were racking his body.

Dante got distracted by his friend's collapse and looked away from Rey. "Erk!"

But as Rey had said before, look away and you're dead. The moment he turned, Rey slashed his claws across his back. Dante screamed as his legs collapsed from the pain. It hurt, but not enough to incapacitate him. As he fell, he rolled forward and away from Rey and his claws. He managed to get to Erk and shook him where he lay. "Erk! Erk you bastard, get up!" He pulled him to his feet and jostled him.

The movement roused the injured wizard from unconsciousness. He groaned. "Everything feels numb and tingly." He made a disgusted face and spat and globule of blood from his mouth. "And tastes like copper."

Dante winced in pain for his friend. Then he immediately dove to the side just as another bolt of green lightning struck exactly where they had been standing.

"Earth Make: Ogres!" Two fat ogre wielding a club erupted out of a brown magic circle. They bellowed loudly and hammered their fists on their chest.

They lumbered towards Raina and Rey with their cubs raised. But by the time they reached them, they had already taken heavy damage. Guns loaded with ice magic fired freezing winds and icicles at the constructs with every step. By the time they reached their targets, they were already frozen solid. The ogres are stronger than most of Dante's constructs, but they were lacking in speed and flexibility. Those guns were going to severely limit the spells he could use.

"Not done yet! Earth Make: Imps!" A dozen small imps wielding spears appeared out of another brown magic circle. They chirped and shouted as they raised their weapons and charged. They couldn't do much damage on their own, but they were quick enough to dodge the bullets that were fired at them. They reached the two siblings and started stabbing at them.

With an irritated flick of his wrist, Rey cut two of the lead imps to ribbons. "Useless." He muttered.

The rest never got a chance to fight. Raina raised her hands towards the little imps and flexed her fingers. "Petrusite Prison." Green lightning shot from her fingers, which wrapped around the imps and formed a birdcage. The earth constructs jumped and screamed as they came into contact with the painful electricity, but they couldn't escape it. They crumbled to dust in a manner of seconds.

"Damn. Those freaking guns aren't helping things. I can't make anything strong enough. At this rate, the imps are just going to waste magic." Then he noticed something. He could see Raina but… "Wait. Where's Rey?" He immediately whirled around to see him rising from a pool of darkness in the ground. He had a claw raised and ready to cut the flesh from their bones.

This time it was Erk that saved them. "Steam Engine!" He couldn't move very far without running into a gravestone, but the temporary boost in speed was enough for him to dash forward and headbutt Rey in the forehead. The goggles over Erk's eyes protected him from hurting himself and served as a nice impromptu weapon.

Rey screamed and fell backwards, blood dripping from his forehead. "The hell do you think you're doing?" He wiped the blood away with his hand and stared at it, rage filling his features. "You are going to pay for that you little shit!" Darkness enveloped his hands and he slashed at the Pumpkin King wizard.

But Erk was expecting it. He crouched down, he grabbed hold of Dante and concentrated his magic in his feet. "Rail Change!" A yellow magic circle appeared at his feet and he jumped high into the air just before the claws of darkness ripped into him. He launched them towards one of the walls nearby that hadn't been destroyed by Hyde's attack. A second magic circle appeared at their feet and held them there, looking down at the fighting going on below.

"So…any ideas?" Dante asked. He looked a little sick from being up so high but he held himself together. "Cause we've been getting our asses handed to us so far." He stared down at the frozen ogres. "And my maker magic isn't very useful with all those guns."

Erk scrambled to think of something. A strategy of some kind. But the only that popped into his mind was that tiny voice in his head that told him to run away. He was starting to get irritated with that voice.

But then it came to him. Down there, he couldn't run without being stopped before he could get any speed. But up here, where it was clear of gravestones and guns… He grinned. "Just one." He said, adjusting his goggles. "Hold on tight cause this is either going to be really cool or we'll fall to our deaths." Dante didn't know what he had planned but he gulped and wrapped his arms around Erk's waist. "Steam Engine!" The yellow circle appeared behind them with the sound of a train whistle and Erk took off with as much speed as he could muster. It was difficult for him to maintain footing on the wall, but he somehow managed it. And with each step, it became easier and easier as the momentum kept him rooted.

Dante figured out what they were doing. He let out a whoop as he adjusted himself so he was hanging on with one arm. He raised his other and tightened his gauntlet into a fist. When they hit the ground, Erk didn't slow his pace. He kept running, straight for Rey and Raina. Now that he had some momentum built up, the gravestones didn't offer much hindrance. They crumbled in his wake and were crushed into dust if they stood in his way. He hoped that Jack wouldn't be too upset. If what he heard was right, his Master cared for these graves. But he might get killed if he kept tiptoeing around them. The guns didn't bother them either. They were moving so fast that by the time they started firing, they were already out of range.

"First things first!" Erk shouted. He aimed for Raina and picked up the speed even more. "Annoying lightning bitch!" He called to the girl. "This is for earlier!" He rushed passed her before she could move.

Dante was ready for her. Just as Erk rushed passed her, he wound up and punched her right in the stomach. It would have been more effective if he had aimed for the head, but he really didn't like the idea of hitting a girl in the face. Even if she was trying to kill him.

She didn't even have time to dodge. As the attack hit her, the wind was knocked out of her. The buildup of momentum and the force of the punch were enough to send her flying.

Rey, seeing his sister in danger, lunged forward to catch her. "Raina!" He managed to grab hold of her but that only made him go flying with her. They slammed right into one of the large lacrima that was sticking out of a mound of dirt but Rey positioned himself to take the damage, acting as a cushion for his sister. A small trickle of blood poured from his mouth but he didn't feel like he sustained any outer damage. He checked his sister to see that she was barely conscious from the force of the blow.

"You bastards." He coughed.

But the two didn't pay him any mind. They were so caught up in their attack that they were whooping and hollering as Erk plowed through the area. "Point for the good guys!" Dante shouted.

Erk laughed with him, but he wasn't watching where he was going. Positioned ahead was a large cannon and it was pointed directly at the. The moment they stepped in range, it let out a blast of wind magic with enough force that it almost pushed Erk to a halt. The young wizard fought against the tempest of wind, but it was a losing battle. The cannon had been packed with more than enough power to knock them away.

They fell back with yells of surprise as the protective barrier from the spell vanished. Erk pushed Dante away just before the wind made contact with him. The shot cut and gouged at his skin, making deep slash marks in Erk's flesh. He screamed in agony as blood poured from the wounds.

Dante didn't fare much better. Erk had managed to save him from the wind attack, but he had pushed him farther than he thought. He fell backwards right into the barrel of a rifle that started shooting fire rounds directly into the earth wizard's back. They weren't big nor did they do much direct damage, but they were painful as they burned away the back of his shirt and burrowed hot embers into his skin. He didn't bleed, but he was willing to bet he would have burn scars later.

He quickly rolled away from the gun and staggered to his feet. Looking for Erk, he found his friend as a bloody mess on the ground. He didn't look conscious.

His green eyes filled with fury at the sight. He had already lost sight of his girlfriend Lorelai. She could be hurt somewhere. Maybe even dead. Now one of his best friends was going to get taken? The thought filled him with cold dread to mingle with the hot anger in his chest. "Like hell I'm going to let you endanger someone else. Like hell!"

He roared as he called up every last bit of magic his body could muster. He gathered it all until he thought he was going to pass out, only to try to gather some more. Around him, bit and pieces of the ground floated into the air and crumbled from the pressure. When his body couldn't stand anymore, he slammed his hands to the ground and screamed, "Earth Make: Dragon!"

A magic circle larger than any Dante had ever made appeared before him. And from that circle flew a large, winged dragon made of earth and stone. Its wingspan darkened the ground below it and each flap of its wings made dust and dirt fly into the air. The beast roared proudly as it was created. It caught sight of Rey and Raina just as the two managed to get their bearings. The dragon roared and flew at them, its stone fangs bared.

It caught hold of Rey, who had jumped in front of his sister upon seeing the construct's approach. He didn't have time to raise any defenses of his own before a giant stone claw swiped at him and sent him sprawling into the air.

Seeing her brother attacked in such a way made Raina snap. As the dragon flew around to attack her as well, she brought both palms together and aimed them at it. "Petrusite Blast!" She screamed as a large lance of green lightning shot from her hands and impaled itself through the heart of the construct.

The dragon roared in pain and writhed through the air as the lance crackled. It locked eyes with Raina and folded its wings, attempting to crush the girl beneath its enormous weight. But Riana wasn't going to give it the chance. She fired lance after lance of lightning into its body, screaming all the while.

The girl managed to succeed in her goal…but so did the dragon. The construct lost its form through the onslaught of attacks. But after losing the magic that kept it moving, there was nothing to stop the mountain sized pile of dirt and stone from crashing onto Raina, burying her from view.

Dante was breathing raggedly as he watched the scene. He cringed when Raina got buried. He hoped she was still alive under all the dirt and stone. He really did. But he was too tired to dig her out. He fell in a heap on the very spot he'd been crouching, his hands still pressed against the ground. The small amount of energy he had was reserved for crawling towards Erk.

Will, Milo, and Kilo were engaged in combat as well, not paying the slightest amount of attention towards what was happening around them. Battle may have been the wrong word however. It was more like they were dancing.

Kilo would attempt to lock Will in place, Milo would strike with his axe, Will would evade them both only to begin the cycle anew. With two enemies to fight, one would think Will had his hands full. But he didn't look tired. He was calmly analyzing the movements of his foes as they danced. He would occasionally lash out with the flame from one of his candles, but the two puppets were quick to avoid them. Will couldn't concentrate on attacking them with all of his candles as most were reserved for fending off the magic bullets that were constantly being shot at him.


Kilo's low voice sounded almost quizzical when he said, "AGREED. ATTACK PATTERN: DIBLITZ. CONFIRMED?"


The two changed styles after the exchange. Instead of waiting for Kilo to try to bind Will, Milo rushed the Pumpkin King wizard.

Will had to jump back to avoid the onslaught. But Milo didn't give him the chance to perform a counterattack. He unleashed a flurry of slashes and attacks that were meant to keep Will off balance with little breathing room. He managed to avoid the majority of them, but he couldn't dodge them all.

Twice he got cut, the blade of the axe ripping into his flesh. He clenched his teeth together to prevent a scream from escaping and used his fire to launch himself a few feet away from his opponent. He examined himself, but was surprised to see that he didn't have any injuries. That was when the fatigue hit him. It felt like his magic was leaving his body from where Milo had cut him.

He glared at the puppet. "That weapon. It doesn't deal physical damage. It attacks the magic inside the body."


Will grunted as he failed to dodge another attack. "Awfully chatty for a robot." He muttered. But while his attention was focused on Milo, he hadn't noticed Kilo behind him.


A portal appeared above Will's head. He looked up with wide eyes just as lightning rained down on top of him. He screamed as his very body was flooded with an unending flow of electricity. He managed to keep his eyes open as he watched Milo and Kilo watch him with vacant looks on their faces.

He started to lose feeling in his limbs. He managed to turn his head enough to look at his arms and legs. They were starting to be encased in stone. His hands and feet were the first to be petrified. Then, slowly, the rest of his body started to change as well. He tried to fight it, but the damage he had taken from Milo was rearing its head. Every time he tried to muster up magic, it would leak out of body before he could use it.

The stone flowed over him, crawling up his limbs and over his back until only his face and chest were free. He glared at the two brothers as he fought off the petrification. "Don't…think...you've won."


That caused Will to smile at them. "Three…percent…is…enough." He sucked in a breath just before his face was petrified as well. And once it was, the spell ended, leaving nothing but a statue where Will once stood.

They studied the statue for a moment before turning their backs to find new opponents. Not even Hyde's guns were firing at Will. They wouldn't shoot something that had no life readings. They could see that Rey had been beaten. He was unconscious on the ground near a large pile of dirt and stone. Near that pile were also the lifeless forms of Dante and Erk. Raina was nowhere to be seen. Their attention shifted to Crest and Samuel. They were in heated combat, both attacking with sword and shield, trying to cleave the other in two.

They stepped forward to join their ally until they felt heat licking at their backs. They turned to find the source only to see blue flames radiating from the candles that were scattered across Will's body. They may have been petrified, but for some reason the wicks still burned.

And they were blazing. They burned through the stone that encased their master until it started to crumble. With a ginormous burst of fire, all of the stone fell from Will's body, allowing the wizard to smile confidently at his opponents. Will his reappearance, the surrounding guns went into action trying to shoot him. But the bullets didn't stand a chance against the heat of Will' flames. They were swallowed, leaving behind nothing but a puff of smoke.

"I decided to take a gamble." Will finally said. "A gamble that your petrification would not only seal me away, but it would trap my magic as well." He held out a hand that was filled with his ghostly blue fire. "And if my magic was trapped inside my body, it wouldn't be able to leak out through those cuts you made." He started walking towards them, his fire growing bigger and bigger with each step. "Normally, I would hold back if I were fighting a living thing. I promised my Master that I would never kill again. But from Jilo said earlier, you two aren't living things. You're more like magic items, puppets with no life or will of your own." He raised his hand. "Which is why I need not hold back. Willow the Whisp!"

The fire flared and took the shape of a skull with its mouth open. It screamed at the twins as it engulfed them in the flames. The two didn't scream. Will didn't think they were capable of screaming. It wasn't in their programming. But even so, he couldn't but feel the smallest amount of pity for them as the fire consumed the magic that gave them life.

The fire died in a manner of seconds. After it was extinguished, Milo and Kilo were nowhere to be seen. Only two empty puppets.

As Will finished his opponents, Becky was toe to toe with hers. She didn't have to worry about the guns Hyde had set up. Her body was now small and slender enough for her to slither around the weapons, not even triggering a reaction.

She was almost blind with rage as she hissed and slithered and struck, trying to dig her fangs into Jilo. But the madman had both quick feet and a quick wit. He observed how her muscled had to contract before she could attack. He used that information to predict when and where she would go.

"Hahaha!" He laughed. "Look at how angry you are! Why, it's like I killed your pet dog or something." He paused and tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Although…I guess I did in a way." He laughed again at his joke, which only served to enrage Becky even further.

With a wild hiss, she lunged at him again. "Ssserpent Sssoul: Python!" With a flash of purple light, Becky changed into a large, powerful, purple python. She wasn't as fast as she was in her Mamba form, but she was deadlier.

She circled Jilo as he watched her curiously. But that would be his undoing. While he watched, she quickly coiled around him, using her own body to constrict the bomb wizard. A python's body contained a lot of muscle, muscle strong enough to strangle its prey in a manner of seconds. She hissed at him venomously as she watched him struggle against her, flailing his arms around and screaming at her.

He pushed at her and tried to get some room between himself and her body. "Let go of me. You're going to kill me!" But then he suddenly stopped and smiled at her. "Just kidding!" He placed his hands on her coils. "Flash Bang!"

She could feel his hands heat up as he cast his spell. That was enough warning for her to uncoil as quickly as she could and jump away. "Mamba!" With another flash of light, the long python was replaced with the body of a small, black Mamba.

And it was just in time too. As she slithered into the shadows of the gravestones around her, Jilo's hands lit up in a sudden burst of heat and light. If he had been touching her, she would have suffered very painful burns.

She couldn't get close to him then. If he could use that spell whenever she touched him, he would burn her to a crisp. That left only one option. It was a form she didn't like taking very often. It drained her of magic and it was hard to control. But she wanted him dead. More than anything she wanted this man dead. And she would do anything to make that happen.

She shifted back into human form and glared daggers at Jilo. He only laughed maniacally at her. "What's the matter, giving up already?" The put his hand to his forehead with faux sadness. "And here I thought you wanted to get revenge for dear old Latran. So much for Pumpkin King's loyalty." He shrugged. "You know, I really wonder why a wizard as powerful as him would sacrifice himself for a weakling like you."

"Quiet!" Becky screamed. "You don't get to say his name. Not one more time will I let you say it." She gathered up all her magic and let it pour through her body. "Take Over: Serpent Soul!"

Jilo rolled his eyes at her. "Yeah, yeah, another snake. You really are just a one trick pony. Sometimes you're big, sometimes small, hell you can even grow wings. But a snake is just a snake." He didn't notice the shadow that fell over him as he spoke. The shadows of multiple snake heads hissed and writhed at him as he continued to taunt the Pumpkin King wizard. "All you can do is hiss and bite." He turned to her, using his fingers as snake fangs. "And it is absolutely…use…less."

His eyes slowly went up to see the form Becky had taken. Her purple scales gleamed with the light given off by the lacrima. She had a single snake trunk, which was as thick enough to drive a cart on. But that wasn't the intimidating part. As the trunk rose, it split into no less than a dozen hissing and spitting snake heads all of which were glaring at him. They had large, pointed fangs protruding from their mouths, slick with venom. A small drop of the poison fell and the ground immediately started to melt from the contact.

Jilo gulped. "Th-That's a-."

"Hydra." They all rasped. Then, in unison, they lunged at him.

Charlotte was struggling in her own battle. Emery was not a patient fighter. She had sustained multiple cuts and injuries at the hands of the Emery and her shadows. They were well coordinated, precise attacks. Emery would throw knives at Charlotte and try to knock her off balance as shadows from every angle would stab at her. Add in the fact that Charlotte had to keep track of the bullets from Hyde's guns as well as Emery's knives and shadows, she didn't like her chances.

She had a key in her hand, ready to be used, but Emery didn't give her enough time to concentrate. All she needed were a couple of seconds and she would be able to turn this battle around.

"Face it wizard." Emery said as she used the shadows of the gravestones to stab at Charlotte. "You don't stand a chance against me." As if to emphasize her point, she gestured at her body. "You haven't even landed a single attack while your body is already battered and bleeding."

Charlotte staggered as a shadow cut into her leg. She was breathing heavily as she said, "How can you hate wizards so much," she brought herself to her feet, "when you're a wizard too?"

That only served to enrage Emery. "You don't know anything!" She dashed forward and cut at her with one of her knives. "I use magic because the only way to kill a wizard is to be a wizard."

Charlotte tripped backwards, managing to avoid the cut, but stepped into the range of a nearby gun. It shot blinding bullets of light at her, searing holes in the back of her legs. She screamed and fell to her knees.

Emery walked up to her, the shadows around her writhing and coming to life at her will. They poised themselves at the Celestial wizard and readied to strike. "I'll stop using magic once every wizard is dead. Until then, it is nothing more than a useful tool."

Charlotte blinked tears from her eyes. The pain coming from her legs was almost too much. She saw the shadows ready to strike her as well as the unwavering coldness in Emery's eyes. When she struck, it would be to kill.

This was her only chance. She held up a shaking hand to point her key at Emery. "Open, Gate of the Hunter. Orion!" The key shined with a glorious light and the shadows gathered around Charlotte reseeded, as if burned by the light's touch.

An orb of light appeared in the air. Branches of light sprouted out from it, creating a bridge from it to the ground directly in front of Charlotte. Emery had to jump back to avoid touching it as Orion came running down it, sword already unsheathed. The blade sparkled with the stars from the night sky.

He smiled confidently as he brandished the sword at Emery. "You rang?"

Charlotte let out a sigh of relief. The sight of the spirit was more than enough to calm her. She was still in pain, but she didn't feel as though her life were in as much danger. "Orion, please." She folded her hands and pleaded with him. "Please defeat her."

Orion smirked. "Understood." He launched himself at Emery and brought his sword down on top of her.

But she wasn't just going to take that attack. She crouched to the ground and sank into the shadows. "Shadow Travel." Once inside the shadow, she started to snake her way far from Orion, hoping to gain some distance between them.

But Orion just sank his sword into the ground through the shadow. Emery yelled in pain as she was coughed up by the shadow, a deep gash in her arm. She eyed the spirit in confusion, who just leaned against his sword and smiled at her. "Sorry, girl. Lady Luck just isn't on your side today." He pulled his sword out of the ground and rested it on his shoulder. "Unfortunately for you, I happen to specialize in fighting shadows." He scratched his head sheepishly. "Though the last one was a lot hairier. And you are admittedly a lot easier on the eyes." As he spoke, he launched himself at her again, though instead of retreating, Emery brought a knife up to block the attack. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to go easy on you for hurting Charlotte."

Emery's arm shook as she tried to push him off. "My battle isn't with you, spirit." She tried to reason. "My vendetta is only against wizards. Leave now and I can free you from the contract you hold with that despicable woman over there."

Orion only laughed. "You seem to have things wrong." He pressed harder down on his sword, trying to break her guard. "I fight for her because I want to, not because I have to. If you were to kill her and break my contract, I would be very sad." The humor disappeared from his eyes. "Not to mention very angry."

That was when the shooting started. Bullets made of light and darkness fired from both sides. In order to evade them, Orion had to break his deadlock with Emery and jump backwards. He glanced at the guns irritably. "Hey, Charlotte. Anything you can do about those pesky pea shooters?"

Charlotte looked at all the guns that were scattered everywhere and shook her head. She was about to tell him there was nothing she could do, but then she heard a jingling sound. "Huh?" She glanced down at her key chain and saw all the keys she had, all the contracts and friends she made. Nico, Lepus, Ursa…and Corvus. She grabbed the crow's key from the chain and looked up at Orion, who was ducking away from a series of light bullets. "I think I have an idea!" She called to her spirit.

She knelt to the ground and grasped the key with both hands. "I…don't have enough magic to summon two spirits at once." She whispered to the key. "But you have the ability to cross into our world on your own, without relying on me to keep you here. So please, please, come. We need your help." She pressed her eyelids closed and poured what little magic she could into the key, to try and at least get his attention. "Corvus!"

The effect was almost immediate. The sound of a doorbell ringing as well as the caw of a crow sounded around her. There was a puff of crow feathers as Corvus appeared before the Celestial wizard.

"What's wrong, caw?" The crow asked. The feathers sticking in his hair almost fell out as he whipped his head around to see the battle that was being waged. "Caw! Why did you bring me here?" He asked angrily. Though there was also a hint of fear in his voice. "I told you, I don't do fighting, caw!"

He turned to leave but Charlotte grasped his hand. "No! Please Corvus, I'm not asking you to fight."

Corvus turned to her and raised an eyebrow. "You're not? Then what do you want, caw?"

She gestured at all the guns that were laying around. "These weapons are distracting us from the fighting. Could you gather them and take them somewhere they can't hurt us?"

He looked at her dubiously. "I don't know, caw. I don't want to pick up anything dangerous." He glanced around furtively and shuddered when he saw Hyde. "Besides, they people you're up against are really scary, caw."

Charlotte could tell he was going to leave. And since he had come of his own free will, there was nothing she could do to stop him. But she really needed his help. She had to think of some way to get him to stay.

Then, from a large lacrima, there came a shout. "Corvus!" Both spirit and wizard turned to see Crest standing atop the lacrima, deadlocked with Samuel. He had sweat on his brow and he was constantly being pelted with gunfire from every angle. There must have been a particularly thick batch of guns in that area. Without breaking his lock with his opponent, Crest turned his head to stare at Corvus. "A reward for every gun."

Corvus started drooling. "Melon seller, caw! You will give Corvus tasty melons? Caw, caw!" He waved his hands in the air happily and jumped around. "Melons! Friends, melon seller will give us melons!" A portal appeared over his head. It looked like a mirror with black crow feathers around the borders. The raucous cry of a whole murder of crows shot through the portal, creating a dark cloud of feathers, beaks, and talons. There was a crow larger than the others. He gave a cry of his own, rallying his kin into file. They flew in formation, scanning the room for their targets. And at their head was none other than Peeko, cawing and giving orders to the smaller birds around him.

The guns started firing into the air at their appearance. But the crows weren't worried. They were quick, nimble, and small enough to easily avoid the projectiles. They even seemed to enjoy it, like they had made a game out of which one of them could dodge at the last second.

Corvus ran and scooped up any gun he passed by, dropping them in random pockets, regardless of whether or not they should have fit. "Go, go, caw!" The crows scattered across the chamber, diving down and picking up the guns one by one.

Orion saw what was happening and cheered loudly, as did Charlotte who was looking on in awe. "Atta boy Corvus! Haha! I knew you had it in you." As the weapons around him were scooped up in a flurry of feathers and caws, Orion got back into the fight. He slashed at Emery, who barely managed to duck in time. A few strands of hair fell from her head. "You don't stand a chance now that all the distractions are gone."

Crest smirked as he saw what was happening. Samuel saw the smile and it only annoyed him. "Don't get full of yourself just yet. You lost this battle the moment you locked blades with me."

Readjusting his grip on his sword, Samuel pushed Crest away. He raised his sword and pointed it at the ceiling. "Colossus!" The sword started to grow at a frightening speed. It didn't even stop growing when it cut into the ceiling, gouging out a large section and causing rubble to fall. And it wasn't just the blade that was larger, the whole sword was. Samuel was holding onto it with both hands, his muscles straining with the pressure.

With a battle cry, Samuel swung. His giant sword cut through the ceiling, creating a large scar as he brought it down on top of Crest. But the shield wizard was perturbed. He brought up his glowing shield and planted his feet. "El Cid!" A blazing barrier erupted around him, protecting him from the blow.

The attack was so large that it even intruded in Charlotte and Emery's fight. Even the crows gave the blade a wide berth. Charlotte screamed as the blade came down near her. The force of the attack was enough to push her from the ground and fling her to the side.

Orion stopped his attack on Emery mid swing to look back at his contractor. "Charlotte!" He ran for her, skipping atop the gravestones that hadn't been crushed by the Colossus sword. When he finally reached Charlotte, he found her unconscious but otherwise unharmed. It looked like she had hit her head when she was knocked into the air.

His eyes widened in fear. Though it wasn't fear for himself. With her unconscious, she couldn't give him the magic he needed to continue fighting. Even as he whirled around to charge at Emery, his body started to fade.

Emery knew what was happening and she was approaching slowly, the shadows gathering and crawling at her feet. Orion raised his sword to strike her. "Don't you dare lay even one hand on Charlotte or I'll-." He could neither finish his attack nor finish his threat as he faded with a puff of smoke.

She smiled coldly. She walked up to Charlotte with both a knife and a shadow raised. "Time to die, wizard."

"Take one more ssstep and he dies."

Emery stopped to see they hydra Becky looming over her. Eight of the heads writhed and spat at her angrily, wanting to tear into her flesh. The other four had their fangs deep in the limbs of Jilo. The man had dust falling though cuts and gashes on his body. His clothes were torn and eaten away by the poison she had produced. He didn't seem conscious. It was even hard to believe he was still alive.

Emery turned to her. "What do I care if that wizard dies? I was going to kill him anyway." She stated. But she didn't move. While she didn't care for Jilo in the slightest, she didn't want to turn her back on Becky either. She would attack her the moment she wasn't looking.

"You don't ssseem to underssstand." One of the heads said. "I've waited a long time to kill thisss man. The only reassson he ssstill breathesss is becaussse he isss the only bargaining chip I have." Another head flickered its tongue out at her. "Should you choossse to ignore me, I will break hisss neck come ssstraight for you."

A head separated from the rest and slithered over to where Charlotte lay unmoving. Her tongue flickered out to taste the air around her injured friend but she didn't move to pick her up. The poison on her fangs would only serve to hurt her more if she tried to carry her using her mouth. Besides, she didn't want to risk moving her if she was injured.

"And if you know what is good for you, you'll both let Jilo go and step away from Emery Jackson."

The seven remaining heads hissed and whipped towards Samuel. His sword was back to its normal size and he was holding it in one hand. The other hand held Crest's arm and was twisting it painfully. Crest's armor was gone. His free arm hung uselessly at his side. From what Becky could tell, it looked broken.

"Young Crest put up a good fight. However, I've been mastering Colossus for years where he has only had the El Cid for a manner of hours." He dip his head in slight respect to his beaten opponent. "Should you have had more time to get used to it, we would have been more evenly matched.

Crest glared with his good eye. The other was swollen with blood flowing over it from a cut above his brow. "Touch them," he said through clenched teeth, "and you'll be lucky if I let you off with a bone left in your body."

"An empty threat." Samuel said. "You can't lift your shield with your arm broken as it is. And so long as I have hold of this," he squeezed the arm he had hold of, "you won't be going anywhere." Then he put his attention back on Becky. "Here's the deal, Pumpkin King wizard. Let Jilo go and we won't harm Crest or Charlotte any further than we already have." He lied. Then he smiled wickedly. "Or is your revenge so important that you will throw away even the lives of two of your friends?"

Becky's heads went wild. Half glared at Samuel while the other half glared at Emery. The four that had hold of Jilo just clenched down on him. There was no way she was going to give up her prey after she finally captured him. But she was starting to lose control. The hydra was a powerful monster. Each head had its own brain and thoughts and desires. Keeping them all under control was taxing. She knew that if she didn't leave that form, it was going to go berserk. Then her friends truly would perish.

His words also stung her pride. She had sought to get revenge for her fallen comrade. But now she was in the position that if she killed Jilo, they would kill Charlotte and Crest. And she was actually thinking about it!

No…no. She had gone too far. With a flash of light, she reverted back to her human form. Her face was pained as she let go of Jilo, letting him flop boneless on the ground.

But the moment she did, Jilo's eyes shot open and he started giggling. "You idiot!" He yelled triumphantly. "You've done it now." There was a blast of light before he started crackling with red electricity. "Hehehe. Hahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!" He turned to them all, and in his arms he held a glowing cylinder. It had red lines running through it and it ate the light around it, leaving nothing but darkness.

Becky froze, as did Emery, Samuel, and Crest. She saw that bomb in her nightmares. Every night over and over again. The reality bomb. "Why." She managed to say. Her body shook as she stared at it. "Why would you use that spell?"

Jilo just kept on giggling. Without saying a word, he pressed the bomb to his chest and let it sink into his body. The red electricity arcing from his body doubled in intensity. "Pumpkin King." He said maniacally. "Nightmare's Begin." He laughed at all of them. "It doesn't matter who loses because Jilo is going to win!"

"Ca-ca-ca-caw!" Out of nowhere, Corvus jump kicked Jilo in the back of the head and used him as a springboard. He was heavy with all of the guns he had collected throughout the room. Using the extra momentum, the spirit scooped up Charlotte's unconscious form and ran with it. "Corvus will keep Charlotte safe. Friends! Retreat, caw!" The crows throughout the room, including Peeko, all crowed with him as they flew through the portal he had created, each carrying its own gun that it had looted. Every last one of them made it through until Corvus jumped through with Charlotte. And once he was through, the portal closed with the sound of a caw.

Jilo quivered in rage and embarrassment that the spirit had gotten the drop on him like that. "That's it. EVERYONE DIES!"

While their guildmates were fighting, Jack and Hyde waged war with each other. Hyde pointed his black gun at Jack's head. "Diamond Dust!" The barrel blossomed with white frost as a stream of ice rocketed towards Jack.

But the ex-assassin knew his old master well. He had seen the attack coming. "Pumpkifire!" He pointed the end of 'Pumpkin Head' at the oncoming blast and a jet of orange fire screamed towards it. The two spells met and canceled each other, creating a powerful burst of steam.

But Jack wasn't going to give Hyde a chance to launch another attack. He brought his scythe up in an arch and slashed down where Hyde had been. "Wicked Crescent!" The air around the scythe quivered, leaving the afterimage of a large smile in its wake.

But by then, Hyde had already moved. He ran to the side so that he could get directly behind Jack. "Your flames aren't as hot as mine. Hellfire!" A burst of red hot flames shot out of the barrel and directly into Jack's back.

The Guild Master grunted in pain, the flames eating away at his cloak. But he wouldn't let the pain subdue him. While Hyde was feeling confident, he flipped his scythe around and brought it up in an arch. Hyde tried to jump away, but he wasn't fast enough. The blade cut him right across his knee.

Jack wasn't going to give him a time to rest however. Bringing 'Pumpkin Head' back up, he brought it down on top of Hyde's head, crushing it into the floor. Placing a foot on the villain's back, he pointed the scythe at him once more. "I have not been idle these last few years." He said. His green eyes stared at him coldly. "I'm a Master now, just as you are. I had to train day and night to keep my seedlings safe. Not even you can stop me now."

He prepared to finish him off, but he hadn't noticed Hyde's gun pointed at him from underneath his arm. "Thor's Hammer!" A cannon of lightning slammed into Jack and pushed him with enough force to throw him high into the air.

As he flew, Jack brandished his scythe and dissipated the flow of electricity around him. He stepped onto the blade of the scythe and aimed himself at Hyde, who was pulling himself to his feet. "Hallow Comet." Orange fire erupted around him and the scythe, casting a glow on the area under him. The fire burned black in certain places, creating a mouth and eyes in the orange sphere, giving it the appearance of a grinning jack-o-lantern. "It all ends here."

Hyde looked up at him with fear in his features. He tried to run, but Jack's aim was true. He wouldn't miss. Becoming desperate, he pointed his gun up at his old guildmate and fired shot after shot at him, creating a pattern in the air around the burning sphere. "Triumphant Grasp!" He yelled with a vicious cry. The pattern solidified into the shape of a giant hand, one that was closing its fist around Jack, intending on crushing him. "Yes it does, boy. With your death!"

Jack paid it no mind. He fell as if pressed by a humongous weight, burning right through the hand, and crashing right on top of Hyde. The impact created a large explosion unlike anything Hyde had managed to create. When the dust settled, Jack was standing victoriously over his beaten Master.

Hyde groaned as Jack stepped off of him, flicking his wrist and shaking the dust off 'Pumpkin Head'. "You lose." He said with finality. "And if you ever come after my guild again, don't ever doubt one thing." His eyes pierced through Hyde's heart, leaving him exposed for Jack to see. "I will end you." There was no threat in his voice. No anger or malevolence either. He was stating a true, undisputable fact.

But when Becky and the others came running up to them, all threats and arguments died in Hyde's throat. They were all coming from different areas where they had fought. A bloody Erk was supporting an exhausted Dante while Becky did the same for Crest. Will came on his own, eyeing the enemies that remained and noting what position Hyde and Jack were in. He had left the lifeless puppets behind. Samuel had a dirt covered Rey and Raina under each arm. Neither of them were conscious and their dead weight slowed Samuel's advance. Emery walked begrudgingly with them, not looking any of them in the eye and an irritated look on her face.

"Master!" Becky gasped. "We need to leave. Now!"

Jack looked at them all with concern. They were all heavily injured. But there was someone missing. "Where's Charlotte?" He didn't ask about Peeko. He knew the bird well enough to know that it had left when it realized they didn't need its help. "Becky what has happened?" He asked seriously.

Becky shook her head. "Charlotte is fine. Corvus got her out safely. But Master," pain flashed across her face at the memory, "it….it's just like with Latran. He's used it again. The Reality Bomb." She was trying to remain calm and collected, to act brave in the face of the danger. But the trauma from that night still haunted her. Her entire body shook with dread.

That caught Hyde's attention. He didn't have the strength to lift himself up, but he still smirked. "Jilo then." He said with a small amount of humor in his voice. "Figures that bastard would pull something like this." He started laughing a loud laugh. "I hope you all made peace with your gods. Because we're all going to meet them soon. There's no way any of us can escape before that bomb detonates." With a groan, he managed to sit up only to cough up blood. He ignored it as he looked down at Jilo. The maniac was looking up at them all and laughing. His whole body arced with red electricity.

Jack ignored him. He immediately went to take Dante's burden form Erk. "Erk, can you get us out?" He asked. "Can your magic get us to safety?"

Hyde laughed at the suggestion. "This runt?" He managed to get into a sitting position while holding a sore spot on his side. "Impossible. Fast as his magic is, even he can't get through that maze." He shook his head and laughed deliriously. "We're miles underground. Face it, there's no escape."

Will looked at his Master. "Loath as I am to admit it, but he's right. Erk can't do it. Especially not in his condition. It would take far too much time to get us out of here on foot."

Everyone's faces sank at his words. They were all disheartened, sure they were going to die in this pit. Will and Jack looked calm, likely because they had been in near death situations before. Crest closed his eyes with a saddened look on his face. Becky was trying to hold it all in, but she looked more than worried. Dante was barely conscious so the fact hadn't quite set in. Samuel only glanced down sadly at the two he was holding. He didn't seem sad for himself, more for them. Emery showed nothing. If anything, she was almost happy that all of these wizards were going to die, even if it meant she would too.

Erk watched them all, good and bad. All these people that were going to die at Jilo's hands. Jack seemed to think he could try…well then he would. He wiped some dust from his goggles and looked at Jack, who was staring at him expectantly. "I can try." He said shakily. Then he growled at himself and shook his head. "No, I can do it." He said more confidently. He looked around the chamber until he saw the strip clear of tombstones. He ran to it. "Wait here!" He called to them all.

When he reached the strip, he didn't even stop running to activate his magic. "Steam Engine!" The yellow magic circle appeared with the sound of a train whistle. He took off at a higher speed than he usually did. His body was in pain. He hurt everywhere. But he still had a lot of magic left. As he picked up speed, he ran straight at the wall. He could distantly hear Jilo's laughter but he tuned it out. He had to concentrate.

He hit the wall with enough speed that he went straight up without slowing down. And with each step he got faster and faster until he was rushing in circles around the room. He had enough speed now that he could concentrate without worrying about falling. Closing his eyes, he concentrated his magic. "Passenger Train." Golden chains appeared around him, connecting him to a glowing platform just behind him. Regardless of what he could think up, he would need the platform to get everyone to safety. The extra magic needed to make it slowed him slightly, but he had built up enough momentum that it didn't matter. He just going faster and faster.

That was when he caught sight giant crack in the ceiling Samuel had made with his Colossus. It was large enough that he could easily dive into it. Problem was, no matter how fast he was, he doubted he could make the sharp turns he would need to take in order to safely get them into it. If the crack went far, it could get them a head start towards the surface. But then he would have to plow through solid earth to get them to safety. And to do that, he would need a lot of speed and momentum. He couldn't waste any trying to turn to get them into the crack. Then it came to him. It was crazy. A whole new level of crazy. But if he could pull it off…

He concentrated on his feet. He would need something to walk on if this was going to work. But he didn't have the magic to spare. He racked his brain for alternatives, but in the end only one thing came to mind. He lessened the amount of magic he used to create the barrier that protected him and his passengers. At this point, they would be lucky to get out alive. If they got a little bumped up, they wouldn't blame him. So he took some of the magic needed to keep the barrier strong and channeled into his feet. He concentrated until sweat started falling from his brow and over the many cuts he had on his face.

It worked just as he had hoped. Light shined under his shoes and he looked down to see train tracks. Whenever he stepped, more tracks were created for him to step on. Looking back, he could see the old tracks faded behind him, to be cycled into the new ones so he wouldn't have to waste magic.

Now to see if it would actually work. If it did, he was confident they would get out. If not…well, he wished he would get to see Tamashi one more time. And to get to say goodbye to his grandpa.

He squeezed his eyes shut and got ready to jump. "Air Rail!" He leapt for all he was worth in the air. He didn't stop running as he did. He kept the motion going and the thought in his mind. There were tracks under his feet. He wouldn't fall. He would fly.

And that is exactly what happened. Opening his eyes, he whooped and hollered in joy. He was running through the air, a train flying in the sky. "Oh yeah!" He yelled. Remembering why he was there, he immediately ran towards the group, who were looking up at him in amazement. "All aboard!"

He stopped directly in front of the group and motioned for them to step onto the platform. Jack, Dante, Becky, Crest, and Will were the first ones on. Samuel made a move to join them, but Dante glared at them. "Where do you think you're going?"

Samuel glared right back. "Boy, I don't care what you think of me. We may have been enemies, but now we are united under a common cause. Survival." When Dante didn't move, he looked at Jack who was holding the Maker wizard up. "Please." He said. "I don't care if you leave me but," he gestured at the two he was carrying, "take them with you."

Dante looked ready to protest again, but Jack stopped him. He was looking at Erk, who was staring ahead, listening to them. When Erk finally spoke, it surprised them. "Get on. Hurry." He lifted his goggles and wiped some tears from his eyes. "I left someone behind once. That spell killed them. But never again. I won't let Jilo kill anyone else." Snapping his goggles back on, he turned to them all, tears staining his cheeks. "I said all aboard. That means all of you!"

Samuel bowed his head to Erk and got on board, standing away from the others with Rey and Raina. Emery didn't seem pleased with the idea of getting helped by a wizard, but she didn't want to die either. She got on like he said but stood near Samuel.

Jack chuckled as he passed Dante to Will. The Guild Master then reached out to Hyde. "You heard him. Let's go." Hyde didn't take the hand at first, prompting Jack to say, "This isn't charity. Once we get out of here, you are going straight to jail." He brandished his scythe at him. "And if you make any funny moves, I will push you off."

Hyde scowled at him. Then he looked down at Jilo, who was still laughing. He wasn't paying them any mind. He was too high off his own magic. Shaking his head, Hyde took Jack's hand. "Very well. A truce…for now."

When they were all on, Erk took off. His passengers shook a little, but they wouldn't fall off. He circled the room a few times to pick his speed back up and then aimed for the crack in the ceiling. "Better hold onto something!" He called to them. "Cause things are going to get bumpy!"

With a defiant roar, Erk flew right into the crack. They flew straight for a small amount of time before the crevice started to thin. They could see earth blocking their way ahead. "Here it comes!" They crashed into the dirt full force, but it didn't slow them down. They rammed through tons of the stuff, hoping beyond hope that they would make it through.

Erk started to feel them slowing down. They was so much dirt and stone above them that it was near impossible for them to keep going. He screamed until his voice was raw, pumping every bit of magic he had into tunneling them to the surface. And just as he was about to run out of steam, when he felt despair in his heart, they finally broke through.

He was practically coughing blood at this point, but Erk punched his fists into the air. "Woohoo!" Behind him, he could hear his comrades doing the same. But they weren't out of the woods yet. Just as they broke the surface, the explosion happened. Behind them, the Reality Bomb went off, devouring everything in is blast radius.

The explosion chased them through the sky as Erk literally ran for his life. He didn't bother trying to stay parallel with the ground. He kept going straight up, as far as he could from Jilo's creation and towards the moon. They hadn't even realized night had fallen.

They all gave shouts and sighs of relief when they left it behind them. Beneath them, they could see the bomb destroying everything, a pale sphere eating away at all the matter around it. But they had let their guard down. The moment they knew they were out of danger, Hyde struck. He punched Will in the jaw and grabbed Dante from his grasp.

"Great!" He jeered. "Now that you've so kindly saved my life, slowly land and let me off." He gripped Dante's head in a way so that he could easily snap his neck. "Otherwise this kid dies."

It happened before anyone could blink. Before Hyde had finished saying 'dies' Jack slammed him with the blunt end of his scythe and yanked Dante out of his grasp.

There was a look of utter shock on Hyde's face. Because Erk had diverted the magic supporting the barrier to make the tracks, it wasn't strong enough to keep Hyde from falling through.

Jack stared down at his Master. There wasn't any hate or anger in his eyes. Only pity as he fell. "Goodbye…Master."

Hyde's surprise changed to fury as he tried to reach for the platform. But by that time, he was too far out of reach. "No!" He screamed. He was foaming at the mouth as the Reality Bomb devoured him as well.

They all stood there, staring at it all. At the place Jilo and Hyde had met their ends. Then Dante sagged and fell out of Jack's grip and onto the floor. He was crying. "Master…" he whispered, "Lorelai was still in there."

Crest's eyes widened. "Azusa too." Will, Becky, and Erk gasped. They hadn't even though of the friends they had been separated from. They would have been trying to reunite with them when all the fighting was going on.

It took a moment for Jack to look away from the spot his Master had died. And when he did, it was with a reassuring smile. "I wouldn't be so sure of that." He calmly pointed far off from the explosion.

From the ground, two figures were waving and shouting, trying to get their attention. They both had wide smiles on their faces. The first was Corvus. He was cawing and jumping up and down happily, crow feathers falling from being dislodged from his hair and clothes. There was a large pile of magic guns behind him. And next to him lay the still unconscious, but very much alive Charlotte.

The other person made Dante laugh in relief. It was Lorelai. Her clothes were torn and tattered and her body was bruised, but she was safe and sound. She was smiling up at them with tears in their eyes. Behind her was Azusa. She wasn't looking up at them, but at the stone statue of Angel. The tears in her eyes weren't tears of joy, but of sorrow. Near them lay an unconscious Rose.

Will sighed as he watched Crest, Becky, and Dante wave back at them. Erk was running towards them. Will looked at Samuel, Raina, Rey, and Emery. They were standing away from them all. They would probably be in jail soon but even so, Samuel looked relieved that Raina and Rey were still alive. Emery just stood awkwardly, trying not to make eye contact with any of them.

He turned to his Master. "Looks like we've made a bit of a mess." He gestured at the explosion which was finally starting to recede. "How are we going to explain this to the Magic Council? That was a lot of damage. They won't be thrilled that we let the Reality Bomb go off again."

Jack just chuckled. "Ohoho. Don't worry about that. Relish in our victory!" He raised his scythe brought it over his head. He lowered it slowly until the metal of the blade started to melt and reshape itself until it was once again in the form of Jack's familiar jack-o-lantern mask. "The king and I go way back. I'm sure he'd be willing to look over this little incident."

Will almost staggered back in shock. "The king? As in the king of Fiore?" He shook his head in amazement. "How do you know him?"

Jack laughed. "Well, you could say we have the same hobby…kabo."

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