After a grueling journey through the treacherous Payon Forest, our heroes of White Trinity came face-to-face with the Battle Vixens for a third time. However, the arrival of the Holy Saviors, seemingly led by the dark Priestess Tsubaki, have emerged as a new threat as they began their quest to acquire the Emerald Emperium.
With expertly-crafted strategies and some luck, White Trinity had managed to seize victory for a third time in the Emperium Jungle as the other guilds retreated in a shocking defeat. This inevitably gave the White Trinity guild incredible amounts of fame and adoration – so much that those who supported the Battle Vixens would begin to lose faith in their abilities – much to the chagrin of a certain scarlet-haired knight.
It has now been a month since the battle for the Emperium Jungle, and White Trinity's leader, Ray Kaza, along with his Monk friend Lee, had arrived at the southern entrance of Prontera with Raien and Thiji close behind. The excessive downtime has put a little bit of rust in their fighting skills, and the Gun-Knight thought it would be a good idea to get some training in prior to the next installation's emergence…
"I still remember when we showed off our Sacred Fire Blitz, Lee! That was something else!" Ray spoke. "I wish they recorded that or something!"
"No kidding! I thought we were in trouble when Lupi set you on fire," replied Lee. "It's like those ladies hit harder and harder each time we fight them."
"They're just mad that we've kicked their butts for the third time in a row now!" Raien interjected. "I wouldn't blame 'em. I'd get pissed too if I lost that much."
Thiji, however, remained silent, lost in his own little world as always. They would approach the Prontera Square minutes later, where the scattered citizens would soon converge into large crowds, making maneuvering difficult.
Lee: Whoa… you see anyone, Ray?
Ray: How can you see anything in this city?! There is always so much going on in this part of town.
Raien: I blame the Merchants.
Ray: At any rate, there's no sign of the Vixens or the Saviors. Let's keep going.
After they made their way through the crowd, they spotted a woman in a purple kimono heading towards the direction of the Prontera Sanctuary. Without hesitation, they rushed over and confronted the figure, assuming that it was whomever they thought it would be.
"Stop, you!" yelled Ray from afar. The figure stopped and turned her body, revealing herself to be none other than Tsubaki.
"What do those ingrates want with me now?" she thought to herself.
"And what are you doing in Prontera?!" interrogated the Gun-Knight. "Up to something funny, I bet!"
"For your information I study here. Surely you of all people would know that," Tsubaki defended, gesturing to Lee. "Is there anything wrong with a Priestess trying to keep close to the Allfather?
"I… guess not…" Lee answered with a shrug. Tsubaki then chuckled.
"You boys are so predictable," she subtly taunted. "Save your energy for the Frontier – that is where you'll need it most. I, however, have many things to do, and little time to do them. Be safe, boys…"
Tsubaki gave them a bow and proceeded into the Sanctuary before the doors closed behind her.
"Looks like everyone's just taking a break right now…" Lee thought aloud.
"Indeed," spoke the Gun-Knight. "At least until the next installation shows itself."
"What do you want to do about this R&R, Thiji?" asked the Ninja. There was no response. "Thiji?"
They turned around and saw the Wizard had vanished from the group. They turned back around and saw the Sanctuary… "Think he went in there?"
"He had to," Ray replied. "But we can't worry about it now; we really should be training – the Battle Vixens are definitely doing so."
"You're right, Ray. Let's head somewhere suitable for some practice; Thiji should be able to find us," Lee said, following Ray out of the city.
Meanwhile, Thiji was indeed inside the hallowed halls of the monastery. He had entered the chapel area and sat down on one of the pews as he relaxed, listening to the organ player at the far end of the room. Botan & Momiji were studying somewhere else within the Sanctuary, and greeted Tsubaki with a bow as she entered…
Momiji: Lady Tsubaki? I think I saw someone coming in the Sanctuary not a moment ago.
Tsubaki: Oh? Who was it?
Botan: I think it was that Wizard clad in blue robes.
Tsubaki: Thiji…? I wonder what he is doing here. You two, continue with your studies. I will take care of it.
Botan & Momiji: Yes, Lady Tsubaki!
Exiting the study hall, the Priestess would slowly make her way down the aisle and come to Thiji resting peacefully by himself, the music seemingly lulling the Wizard to sleep…
Tsubaki: (chuckle) Good morning, sir. I did not think you'd be sleeping here of all places, and without a book in your face.
The Wizard opens his eyes as Tsubaki took a seat next to him.
Thiji: Oh… good morning, I suppose.
Tsubaki: I have seen you and your… disposition. Have you ever considered becoming a Priest? You fit the criteria for one; a shame you chose another path.
Thiji: I chose what I chose as it better suited me and the element I so expertly wield.
Tsubaki: How true you are.
Thiji: Which reminds me, should you not be studying as most Priests do?
Thiji would feel the tension slowly rising, and would attempt to leave the chapel before it grew any higher, but a snicker from the Priestess in ebon robes would halt him, curiosity making him still.
Tsubaki: I only wanted to engage in conversation with you… especially regarding that Heal-Do child.
Thiji, turning around to face Tsubaki: What of her?
Tsubaki: Oh-ho… so you do give a care about her?
Thiji: Hardly… though I would like to know why you even brought her up in the first place.
Tsubaki: Is it not obvious, little Wizard? During our little squabble in the Emperium Jungle, I couldn't help but notice her morale would dwindle whenever she came face-to-face with you. I would say that the girl is very unwilling to do you harm. Surely she must care.
Thiji: Sorry to disappoint you, but that is old news; Heal-Do has been like that ever since this whole conflict began. Of course, you would have no idea about this since we did not run into your ilk until later on. Which raises a further question, why do you care about her anyways?
Tsubaki: You blow love's temptation away like a heap of dry leaves in the wind. For if you did love her, something unfortunate may have befallen her – and ultimately you – in the long run. Warnings aside, you are perfect for Priesthood.
Thiji: Be that as it may, I simply do not love her. Try as she will, it will have no effect on me.
Tsubaki, thinking: Like a man on a mission, this boy… very impressive. Which reminds me... I wonder where she has gone to. Probably off cleaning herself at her favorite spot again… hmph.
The Wizard would leave her without another word and exit the Sanctuary altogether, heading down the streets of Prontera City. As he did, he would run into a familiar face in an even more familiar outfit. One of the first Kafra that he and Raien met since coming to Rune-Midgarts – Kafra Pavianne.
"Good morning to you, Sir Thiji! The Kafra Corporation is always here for your adventuring needs!" she greeted in the usual Kafra way. "How can I help you today?"
"Hello again, Pavianne," the Wizard greeted back. "I need someplace to relax and think. Do you have any ideas?"
The purple-haired woman pondered for a moment before a light bulb appeared by her head.
"I know of an island off the coast of Izlude where a lot of couples like to go!" she explained. "It is a tropical paradise/honeymoon/vacation spot that was opened by King Tristan Gaebolg III after realizing the amount of capital it could gain and add to the Kingdom's Treasury!"
"My, how shrewd…" commented Thiji. "But otherwise generous. Thank you, Kafra Pavianne. Give Miss Nora my regards."
He gave a bow and flashed a ticket to Pavianne for a free ride to Izlude, where he would take a ship to the fabled honeymoon island. Without wasting any time, he was already on board the next ride there, and the weather seemed fair and promising enough for a peaceful sailing. These precious moments of peace gave the Wizard time to contemplate on all that has transpired since the Emperium Frontier's inception: the ever-vengeful wrath of the Battle Vixens; the arrival of a third entity that is the Holy Saviors; the many close calls that they have had battling both forces on several fronts; and the true mystery behind the Emperium Stones. All of this and more the Wizard pondered, and all that he could surmise was that the fighting can only get more difficult as the conflict continues, with new and strange monstrosities to conquer; wondrous and dangerous dungeons to explore, and definitely more obstacles to overcome.
And Heal-Do… the Water Elf who seemingly covets him deeply. Thiji was never someone to deviate from his mission objective, but he would always attract the feelings of another without even deliberately trying. Regardless of what and how she felt, he shook it from his head and set his eyes on the horizon – the honeymoon island was in view – Jawaii.
The locale was amazing, just as Kafra Pavianne described. The people were friendly and cheerful, and there was parties and dancing all around the housing area. The beach was sparse save for a few Normans scattered here and there. Thiji knew that this was an excellent place to relax, and so he decided to make his way to the coast, where he'd find a special island in the shape of a heart.
"Has to be where they take photos…" he thought aloud. After a few minutes of basking in the ocean breeze, a hand would reach out to him grasping a drink – what seemed like a pineapple daiquiri. When he would turn his head, however, he would get – in his case – an unwelcome sight…
Thiji: What in -? Heal-Do?!
Heal-Do: Hello, my lord…
The Assassin blushed heavily, but attempted to hide it.
Thiji: How strange that in Jawaii, of all places, I would find you here.
Heal-Do: You think you're the only one that needed some time alone? To relax and think? I had honestly no idea you'd choose here.
Thiji: It is still morning time. There aren't many people around the beach while it is still cool. Plus the place is very lovely, I've noticed…
Heal-Do: You are absolutely right about that…
The Wizard and the Assassin watched the sun rise for several moments. Being on the other side of Rune-Midgarts, they were several hours behind from the mainland – therefore, the sun had only begun its ascent into the heavens. Heal-Do would then turn to Thiji…
Heal-Do: I have been wondering for some time now, Thiji… is there a reason why you do not show any affection for me?
The Wizard did not respond.
Heal-Do: All this time, I had thought long and hard about this matter, and I wanted to know. There is no one around to hear this, so please tell me… why?
Thiji: Simple: I do not have time to be fraternizing with the enemy.
Heal-Do: What? Fraternize?
Thiji: "To associate or form a relationship with someone –"
Heal-Do: I know what it means! But… why fraternize? I could honestly care less about what my other sisters think… It's my choice; they cannot hate me for it.
Thiji: Boldly stated, my dear… however, I simply do not have the time for such relationships. Also, the rest of White Trinity is training for the next big battle, and I prefer to rest before actually joining them.
Heal-Do: So… you don't…?
Thiji: I am afraid I do not.
Heal-Do: Not even a small amount, my lord…?
The Assassin then moved in front of him so that their eyes would meet, Heal-Do being the only thing he could see.
Heal-Do: But there must be something… deep down inside you, there must be something… anything… I just know it.
Thiji, thinking: I give her credit – she's persistent… (Aloud) I will listen as much as you want, Heal-Do, but it will not avail you. This Emperium Frontier is becoming more and more dangerous, and I cannot have my mind distracted by this. This will only slow me down… You'll understand – hmm?
Heal-Do took his hands into hers and stared deep into his eyes.
Heal-Do: Lord Thiji… sometimes love might save you from even the gravest of situations. I have come to realize that now. Someday, if we ever reach that far, one of us will be in dire need of help… and only the other will be the one to save them. Perhaps, it may be – dare I say – destiny.
The Wizard slowly took his arms away from the Assassin and turned his body, his back facing Heal-Do…
Thiji: I do not know much of destiny, but I am highly certain that two highly-skilled fighters such as ourselves would fall prey to such a quandary where one of us will end up having to save the other… not that I do not believe you, but… it sounds like nonsense.
Heal-Do: Is it? Is it, Thiji? Is it truly nonsense? It could happen.
Thiji: Well, we will most definitely find out for ourselves, won't we?
The Wizard would then take out a Butterfly Wing from his pouch.
Thiji: I sincerely apologize to end this little… rigmarole early, but I just remembered to reunite with the rest of White Trinity.
As he would begin to wave the Butterfly Wing in his hand, Heal-Do rushed over and embraced the Wizard. Though it was ephemeral, she felt the slightest bit of happiness before being pushed away by Thiji, and vanishing into thin air. After he had disappeared completely, Heal-Do placed her hands to her heart and gazed out into the ocean. Tears would begin falling from her cheeks…
Moments later, another Elf arrived in Jawaii atop her pet bird, Mukuhawk. It was none other than Elua, the second youngest of the Battle Vixens, coming to check up on her baby sister.
Elua: Hey, Heal-Do!
She noticed her weeping and ran to her side.
Elua: Whoa! Are you okay? What's wrong?
Heal-Do, sniffling: N-Nothing… it's nothing…
Elua: Oh, no, there's something definitely wrong here.
Heal-Do: You would not like it if I told you...
Elua: Nothing in this world will make me forget that you are my sister. Come on, Heal-Do… talk to me.
Heal-Do: Fine, but… Lupi and Aege, they can't learn of this. At least not yet.
Elua: I swear to keep this secret.
The Wind Elf leaned over and moved her green locks aside so that her ear would be close to Heal-Do's lips so that she would be able to whisper whatever it was that had Heal-Do so upset to her…
Elua: (Gasp) No… way! Is this for real?!
Heal-Do: I'm afraid that it is…
Elua: Well, I can't tell you who you can and can't love, Baby Sister, but… what about Lupi? Who knows what she'd do if she catches wind of this!
Heal-Do: I can deal with Lupi. My main concern is knowing whether or not he truly loves me.
Elua: Well, sis, I can only tell you this: it is only at our moment of direst need that one's true feelings become known. And I know for a fact that he may one day confess!
Heal-Do: Funny… I said that to him just a few moments ago.
Elua: Wait, here?! Just now?!
Heal-Do: Mm-hmm… and yet, I care for him more and more as time passes by… if I don't control this, I might explode right in front of him.
Elua: That really is very deep of you… but we really have to keep this on the hush-hush in the meantime. I don't want Lupi going off again.
Heal-Do: I'm so glad that you came, Elua. Thank you…
Elua: No problem. Let's go back home. We may be able to make it back to Amatsu in time for lunch!
The two Elven sisters began to leave the honeymoon island. Meanwhile, back at the fields of Prontera, Ray, Lee, and Raien were commencing their training regimen…
Raien was focusing his inner spirit as he attempted to summon a large dragon made of his own chakra. However, the technique was quite advanced, and he would soon be drained…
Raien, panting: Damn… I messed up… Even for me, this technique ain't easy to master, for sure!
Lee: It's all right, Raien. Take it one step at a time.
Ray: I've never seen Ninja perform Ninjutsu like that before. Then again, I rarely see Ninja at all around here… Who taught you that?
Raien: The master I serve known as the Lightning Shadow, or Raikage. He promised me that if we defeated the competition back at the Emperium Jungle, he would teach me how to perform it. All that remains now is to master it…
Lee: It must be awesome being a Ninja. Though I think I'll keep my distance just in case you do master it, because it might be WILD!
Thiji would then arrive, making his way out of the city to meet up with his companions.
Thiji: You can say that again… My robes were nearly totaled after that stunt he pulled back in Payon.
Raien: Yeah, sorry about that, brother.
Thiji: It's fine. It was a necessity.
Lee: No kidding. Oh, by the way, guys. I've been thinking: what do you all think will happen after this?
Ray: What do you mean, Lee?
Lee: You know, after the next facility reveals itself?
Raien: One thing's for sure: it won't get any easier from here on. That much goes without saying. And we've been fighting the Battle Vixens for a while now.
Thiji: And now there is the arrival of the Holy Saviors…
Ray: A three-way struggle.
Thiji: But no matter what happens, we will be prepared to face and overcome it. I guarantee you all that.
Ray: Wait a minute… did you guys hear something just now?
Raien: No, I didn't hear anything.
Ray: Hold on; listen closely…
In a collective effort, White Trinity closes their eyes to focus their senses… After a moment, the sound of humming would be made apparent to their ears…
Lee: Who do you think that might be? It sounds like it's coming from the river that runs through these plains.
Raien: I don't know, but I think I should go and check it out.
Thiji, sarcastically: Oh, that is an amazing idea, brother…
Raien immediately volunteers and sneaks into some nearby bushes. Rustling through the foliage, he finds a clearing where a girl is seen bathing herself within the riverbank. Raien notices her clothes on the edge of the river…
Raien, guffawing: NICE! This is totally my lucky day! But those clothes… hm…
Ray: Do you see anything, Raien?!
Raien: Uh, no… no, not really. (Thinking) Now's my chance…!
The girl was minding her own business until she thought she heard some noises coming from behind her.
"Did I hear something just now?" she asked herself as she turned around, but to no avail. "Hm. It must have been my imagination…"
After closing her eyes, she reopened them almost instantly and jerked her head around once more.
"Wait a second…!"
Her clothes had vanished! All that remained was her sword and her shield.
"What the -?! Who could have done such a despicable thing? Whomever did this will pay dearly!"
Meanwhile, back at the fields, the Lightning Ninja had returned to the group carrying some strange garments…
"Raien? What took you?" Thiji asked. "You took an awful long time to—"
"Shit…" said Raien under his breath. A sweatdrop came down Thiji's, Lee's, and Ray's brows.
"What the hell?! Are those clothes?!" the Wizard scolded. "There was someone in the river?!"
"Maybe…" the Ninja simply replied.
"You just… took the person's clothes?" Lee followed, his eyes narrowing.
"Maybe…" reiterated Raien. Ray walked over and inspected the clothes…
"Well, whoever these clothes belong to, they're a Crusader," Ray deducted. "Mostly female. Crusaders are devoted servants of the Church of Odin, and they have been sworn to uphold and protect the people and those who worship Odinism. They are also more focused around defense as they carry a huge shield and can use Holy magic to protect themselves and others."
"That's well and good, but it's the single fact of that particular garb belonging to a woman that I am worried about," spoke Thiji with a shake of his head.
A few moments later the Gun-Knight gasped upon a second inspection of the clothing.
"Oh, shit, guys…" Ray quivered. "Those symbols on the cape… they're –"
The Wizard and the Monk rushed over and parted Raien's hands to get a good look of the Crusader's clothing. But before any of them could utter a single word, a shout came from within the bushes…
"You lecherous thief! How dare you!" spoke the naked woman, using her tower shield to maintain her decency. She stared daggers at Raien, approaching White Trinity all the while.
"Ma'am, I promise you I didn't steal this!" defended Lee, taking his hands off of the clothes.
"I know you are innocent, fair Monk," said the woman. "As well as the Wizard and the… Knight…"
Her anger would soon give way for surprise as she acquired a closer look of the four young men. White Trinity gasped in unison at the closer sight of the woman as well. She had auburn hair and hazel eyes, and delicate facial features.
"You're…!" gasped Ray. "No way…! We… we saw you fall!"
"The Swordsman that Lupi killed…" Lee said with astonishment. "And yet you still live!"
"White Trinity…" whispered the woman. She then darted her eyes back at Raien and snatched her clothes back from his clutches. "Lecherous Ninja... you have some nerve!"
"That's Raien for you…" Thiji sighed.
"I am not sorry," Raien said in a cool tone. Thiji, Ray, and Lee turned around to give the woman the privacy to don her gear, save for Raien who was still looking until Thiji turned his body around for him. After a minute of waiting the woman would be restored to her former glory.
"White Trinity…" she said again, but this time more audible. "The very guild that saved me and my brothers and sisters twice now since the Emperium Frontier's opening. I owe you greatly, however, it pains me to say that I am now your foe, as are my sisters."
"Whoa, what?!" shouted Ray, jumping up a little. "But it wasn't our fault! It was Raien's!"
"I don't think that is what she means, Ray…" Thiji interjected.
"Sir Thiji is correct. I am of the Holy Saviors, and I have assumed command of them as of last month."
The Crusader unsheathed her blade and held it to her face. It gave off a silvery gleam in the sun, slightly blinding the four.
"Formidable you four may be, I will give my all in this next battle, and exact vengeance for the savage harlots that have felled many of my comrades, for I, Youmei, will be the shield that protects the people. For now, I bid you farewell, White Trinity…"
After her monologue, Youmei sheathed her sword and set off back towards Prontera. Just as she passed the city gates, a certain teal-haired Kafra came running out into the fields…
Ray, Lee, Raien, & Thiji: Nora!
Nora: Hey, boys! How ya' doin?! The break treatin' you guys good?
Thiji: Somewhat. We just had a run-in with someone from Holy Saviors.
Nora: Really? Well, how interestin'!
Lee: Is there something you wanted to tell us?
Nora: Yeah, actually! I know how you guys were a little tuckered out from the last fight in the Emperium Jungle, right? Well, I just found a golden opportunity for y'all to restock on supplies!
Thiji: Where? We could definitely use more potions, among other things.
Nora: I was talkin' with my fellow colleagues earlier about the Emperium Frontier, and we touched on the subject of Geffen, the City of Magic!
Ray: Of course…! Geffen!
Thiji: Mind telling us a little about it?
Nora: Sure! This should be a refresher for Ray and Lee!
The Kafra clears her throat for a moment and takes out a map from one of her back pockets, pointing at a small city shaped in the form of a circle.
Nora: Located in the westernmost region of the Rune-Midgarts kingdom, Geffen is where the denizens of the kingdom go to become Magicians at the famous Magic Academy!
Nora: It was also once the ancient capital of the Elven Kingdom of Alfheim! There is also rumors that the city was once built by great Wizards of ages past since they believed in magic!
Raien: Hm… Elua & Heal-Do are Elves…
Lee: Think they might have any information about Alfheim?
Thiji: Not unless you want to get torn to pieces in the process of asking.
Nora: There is a huge tower at the center of the city where the Wizard Magic Academy is held; the actual Magician's guild is located on the outskirts of the city itself. Also, it is where the Blacksmith's Guild is located, too! Because of this, they are capable of forging elemental weaponry!
Ray: Of course. And then there's the Orc Village and Goblin Village to the South, where Lee and I like to train sometimes.
Nora: Exactly! West of there is the Kordt Forest – where Kobolds are its natural inhabitants!
Thiji: Any more information for us?
Nora: Yes, actually. Every three years in Geffen, the Magic Festival is held for a total of fifteen days! Here, Magicians turn their research into spellwork!
Thiji: So it's a showcase of sorts…
Nora: There's also the Tournament of Magic where spellcasters of all classes face off against one another using only magic!
Ray: Sounds like something right up your alley, Thiji!
Nora: Though the Magic Festival won't happen again until about another year or so, so that leaves plenty of time for you to practice!
Thiji: I see. Thank you, Madam Shuji.
Nora: No problem! If you're all are prepared, I'll take you guys there in a heartbeat!
Raien: All right… here's a voucher.
Nora graciously accepts the free teleportation ticket from the Ninja and begins using her special magic to whisk them away to the City of Magic.
About several minutes of transporting through the aether, the four would find themselves at the city square, where they find numerous people cavorting with each other. Witnessing the splendor of this new area, Thiji and Raien noticed the violet cobblestones that made up the city's streets, and the towering structure located at the heart of the City of Magic which housed the Magic Academy…
"Wow… This entire city is built like a donut!" Raien exclaimed. "Think there are any pretty ladies here?"
He then found his brother, the Wizard, being surrounded by a small legion of neophyte Magicians of the female variety. "Hey! How are you getting the girls this time?!"
"I'm not," defended Thiji. "They are just fans."
"Well, send some of your fans over here!" Raien demanded. "Nora completely left out the fact that this place had sexy-looking female Mages… that wear nothing… but a bra and a skirt…"
The Wizard politely asked his adoring public where they would be able to find some magical supplies. One of them points to the Northwest, where the Magician's Guild is located. He thanks them kindly and turns to his friends.
"My newfound public says that we can acquire some items by the Magician's Guild to the Northwest of here," he told them.
"I could have told you that!" Ray said, leading the way. "All right, then. Let's get going!"
As they left, Thiji looked back and saw the posse of female Magicians – some of them swooning; others pouting – at their muse. This fascinated the Wizard as he gave them a friendly wave farewell to acknowledge them.
"Whatever. Female Ninjas are sexier anyway," spoke Raien in a jealous tone. Coincidentally, some Kunoichi began walking by the Lightning Ninja, giggling at him as they went by, which made his head turn a complete one-hundred eighty degrees and would begin walking towards them. "And there go some right now!"
"Wait, Raien!" Lee called out. "Oh, fine, then. We'll explore the city without him."
White Trinity, however, was not the only ones present in the City of Magic. To the East, a certain Blacksmith & Knight duo were sitting around in the Blacksmith's Guild…
Lupi: (Yawns) I can't keep waiting like this… I wish the next place would show itself already... I'm keeling over from boredom!
Aege, tempering her and her sisters' weapons: There really is no hope for you, is there? You are always impatient, and you're the first one to go off.
Lupi: Easy for you to say, little sister… I want my redemption on those Trinities!
The Blacksmith pauses what she was doing for a moment and snickers.
Lupi: Something funny?
Aege: For a moment you sounded like those Holy Saviors with "redemption" and all!
Lupi, chuckling: I did for a second, didn't I?
Aege: By the way, have you seen Elua today? I didn't find her in her room this morning.
Lupi: She went to fetch Heal-Do for us.
Aege: I see… Well, it –
Before Aege said another word, she notices Raien of White Trinity walking by with a group of blushing female Ninja around him and takes cover behind the forge.
Lupi: What is wrong – (Muffled, angry shouting)
Aege drags Lupi into the shadows with her until Raien passes by. He was busy amazing his entourage with his many exploits in the Emperium Frontier to realize the two sisters were even around. Lupi was still kicking and shouting, trying to get Aege off of her.
Aege: Phew… sorry about that, Lupi. I didn't want us being seen.
Lupi, with a smile on her face: Oh, that's not a problem at all, Aege. Just be sure to warn me next time you do something like that or I'll harm you bodily.
Aege: (Frightened tone) O-Okay… I'll be sure to remember…
At the Prontera Sanctuary, Youmei had finally reunited with her sisters, though they would find their new leader with reddened cheeks…
Tsubaki: What's the matter with you, Youmei?
Momiji: Why are you blushing, Sister?
The Crusader did not say a word and jostled the two Acolytes out of the way.
Youmei, angrily: I am going to go change now… excuse me.
Tsubaki, thinking: "Strange for Youmei to appear before us in such a manner. Clearly White Trinity is to be responsible fo0r this. How troublesome indeed… I have just the idea to remedy this!
As Botan & Momiji struggled to get back on their feet, and Youmei getting out of her good clothes and into her battle attire, the four went about their business for a time serving the people, healing those in need, and giving thanks to Odin for their good health and well-being.
Later in the afternoon – about an hour after Youmei's arrival – Tsubaki had called the four of them back into one of the confession chambers to discuss an important matter…
Youmei: We are here as you requested, Tsubaki. What do you wish to speak about?
Tsubaki: I have been thinking for some time now about our current situation in the Emperium Frontier.
Botan: Really? What is it, Lady Tsubaki?
Momiji: It's important, right?
Tsubaki: It most certainly is, my dears. Look around you. What do you see?
The Crusader and the Acolyte twins take a moment to scan their surroundings.
Botan: A confession chamber?
Tsubaki: Think bigger…
Momiji: A… place of peace?
Tsubaki: Bigger still…
Youmei: You silly Acolytes. She clearly means the Capital City of Prontera.
Tsubaki: Correct as always, Youmei. But more importantly, what is Prontera to us, the Holy Saviors?
Botan & Momiji: Our home!
Tsubaki: You catch on fast. This is indeed our home. In light of this, you are all aware of the building located within Mt. Mjolnir that appeared when this all began, right?
The others would nod in unison, still unsure of what the Priestess in black was getting at.
Tsubaki: Then why, pray tell, is it under the stewardship of White Trinity?
Botan: That's easy! Um… because they were here first, right?
Tsubaki: Normally, you'd be correct, but despite not having encountered them since the Emperium Frontier's inception, it should, by rights, belong to us.
Youmei: But Tsubaki, you forget: we have encountered them. We were one of the "lesser guilds" struck down by the Battle Vixens' fury.
She had Tsubaki there. The massacre at Mount Mjolnir completely slipped past her. But she shook her head at the thought.
Youmei: But just what are you suggesting, Priestess?
Tsubaki: Simple: what if we were to demoralize White Trinity while at the same time benefitting ourselves?
Momiji: You mean like hurting them and helping us?
Tsubaki: Exactly that, Momiji.
Youmei: Your words are finally beginning to sound interesting, Tsubaki. I am listening.
Botan: I think I know where this is going…
Tsubaki: We take back the streets of Prontera by usurping the Emperium Frontier from the hands of White Trinity!
Youmei: Yes… you are right about that. Plus, there should be an Emperium Stone there lying dormant, allowing us to seize it.
Tsubaki: The Holy Saviors will be empty-handed no longer! Let us take over the Fortress for our own use!
Botan & Momiji: Yeah! For the Saviors! In Odin's name!
In youthful vigor, the twins begin storming out of the Sanctuary and toward the Northern gate of Prontera, leaving Tsubaki and Youmei behind for a moment.
"By the way, Youmei," Tsubaki started. "Why were you so red in the face earlier?"
"That is none of your business, Tsubaki. Let us be off," the Crusader icily replied before elegantly striding out of the hallowed halls of the monastery.
"My dear Thiji, you are not the only one capable of devising strategies… now, you have left yourself wide open, and shall pay dearly for it!" she thought, giving a wicked chuckle before following Youmei out of the Sanctuary.
Back at the City of Magic, Ray & Lee had begun their perusal of the wares within the Mages' Guild, browsing through the many potion stocks available to them. Thiji was getting his fill of gems of various colors and an abundance of blue potions that made the shopkeepers somewhat disturbed at his generous patronage. Meanwhile, Raien had continued flaunting himself before his adoring fans, completely oblivious to the Battle Vixens' presence, which gave enough time for Elua & Heal-Do to reunite with their older siblings…
"You two are late!" Lupi scolded. "You must have had much relaxation during your R & R."
"Forgive me, sister… Elua and I just had a little talk, that's all," Heal-Do replied with her head slightly lowered.
"It's no trouble, really," Aege stated, still working on her and her sisters' weapons. "I was able to get some major tempering done with our equipment! The Trinities will never know what hit them this time around! Also, it may be a little impertinent to ask, but have any of you managed to find any information regarding where the next installation will be?"
"Unfortunately, nothing," Elua answered with a shrug. She looked over at her pet falcon, who also shook his head. "Mukuhawk and I haven't heard anything regarding the Emperium Frontier in about a month."
"DAMN!" Lupi shouted as she stomped the pavement with great force sufficient to break a man's foot. Due to the volume of her voice, however, Raien stopped for a moment and turned around toward the source of the noise, but he saw nothing but a forge that was seemingly left abandoned with weapons placed over a steel anvil.
"Eh, just my imagination again," he said coolly to his entourage, making them laugh all the while. As soon as the coast was clear again the Battle Vixens rose back up to their feet.
"Close call there…" Heal-Do sighed. "But we do have a hunch, sisters. Since there has already been three areas – one in three of Rune-Midgarts' cities – that means that the fourth could be in any one of two remaining places: here, or Alberta, where we go to and from home."
"And I'd place my money on Geffen, if you ask me!" Elua added. "A place like this and the surrounding areas would be the perfect place for it to appear!"
"Then at least we know something White Trinity doesn't for once," the scarlet-haired Knight spoke, looking back over to Raien as he continued in the opposite direction, leaving them to continue about their business.
Back at Mt. Mjolnir, Botan & Momiji were seen standing before the Emperium Fortress's entrance, while Tsubaki & Youmei had appeared behind them. Inside was the Ruby Emperium, left unattended by the White Trinity guild, waiting to be wrested by the hands of the chosen warriors of Odin...
Youmei: The Emperium Fortress… here, in Mt. Mjolnir. To think that I would never get so close to the front gate all those months ago, let alone the interior.
Tsubaki: Yes, and now you will be able to exact your revenge on the Battle Vixens by taking this from White Trinity's hands.
Youmei: Redemption, not revenge. I will not stoop to the level of those savages.
Botan: In the name of the Allfather, these banners will be replaced with the colors of the Holy Saviors!
Momiji: We will see it done, sister! Lady Tsubaki, we are ready to storm the castle!
Without warning, a large arrow struck the ground before the four. The Acolyte twins jumped back high in the air and fell on their bottoms, while Youmei dashed to the front of her companions on instinct.
Youmei: Behind me, sisters! We are not alone!
Tsubaki, thinking: Defenses…? They left behind Guardians…? Did that Wizard know we would be here after all?!
Youmei: Forward, Saviors!
The Crusader advanced as the others followed behind her, deflecting the arrows fired by the Guardians within until they breached the front gate. With the Bow Guardians now in view the twins focused their magic and cried, "Pneuma!" as small clouds of green light appeared around them, nullifying their ranged attacks. They then proceeded to fire away at them with volleys of Holy Light – with Tsubaki's aid, of course – until they sustained enough damage to deactivate and dismantle into pieces.
With the primary defenses crumbled, Youmei commanded, "Forward! To the Ruby Emperium!" as she charged ahead with her blade held high, fighting off the Bow Guardians as they appeared. During their ascension, Tsubaki was paying close attention to Botan & Momiji, whom have been fighting with exceptional skill recently. It intrigued her knowing of the potential that laid dormant in these twins.
They had arrived to the top floor at last, where a duo of Sword Guardians stood side-by-side to greet them. They would step forward and raise their blades before Youmei would steel herself for the coming attack.
"Angelus!" cried Botan as Momiji followed with a Blessing. A bell appeared above the heads of herself and the other Saviors. As it tolled, feathers would pop out in place of the bell, combined with the halo and angel wings given by the Blessing. Youmei felt a great surge of strength through her body as she rose her shield with little effort, steadfastly blocking the Guardians' strike, and counterattacking with a cross-shaped double slash attack that would crush the Guardians with the power of Holy.
"Victory to Odin's chosen!" Youmei shouted triumphantly. Tsubaki gave an acknowledging grunt while Botan & Momiji cheered for a brief moment before falling to their knees.
"You two," Tsubaki uttered, "are stronger than I had originally anticipated. You've helped clear the way to our ultimate goal."
"It was our pleasure, Lady Tsubaki…" they both spoke simultaneously between pants.
A moment later, a bright red glow filled the room as the Ruby Emperium stood before them on a raised dais. The Saviors slowly approached the precious rock and stared in awe at its splendor…
"This is it," Youmei said. "The very mineral that controls this Fortress – the Ruby Emperium."
"It's… beautiful," said the dark Priestess, almost entranced by its crimson hue.
"And with this, we will be one step closer to the Holy Saviors' glorious conquest," the auburn-haired Crusader said shortly after.
An incredibly bright red light filled the room and the surrounding area. Meanwhile, as those events were occurring, Nora – whom was once again in the Sograt Desert to monitor the appearance of any dangerous beasts – had received a call from one of her crew members…
Nora: This is Kafra Nora. What's up?
The teal Kafra then gasped, turning her head around frantically at what her colleague had just informed her.
Nora: What? Already?!
After looking westward, Nora saw something shoot up into the very heavens.
Nora: Shoot, we don't have time for a broadcast, Pav; I'm all the way out in Morroc territory! (To herself) And I won't be able to notify the boys in time either…
Nora would then begin blitzing through the Sograt Desert with uncanny speed – even more uncanny for a Kafra employee.
Nora: We'll have ta' get the rest of the crew together later! Is there anyone else available?! The Western Branch…? It'll have ta' do for now. Report this to Headquarters while I contact Kafra Western Branch! Kafra Nora out!
The transmission ended and Nora went full speed towards Morroc while she attempted to get a hold of someone from the Western Branch…
Nora: This is Kafra Executive Nora. Get me with someone from our girls at the Western Branch!
Back at Geffen, the scene was much more exciting for what had shot up into the air was not one, but five beams of light with varying colors. This made the citizens of Geffen jump in fright, while White Trinity and the Battle Vixens felt the earth beneath them shake ever so slightly.
"So," Ray spoke, "the next battle has finally arrived…"
"Yes, finally here…" Lee followed.
"The next battle…" Thiji murmured, looking over to the direction Raien went some time ago. Speaking of, the Ninja and his female followers witnessed the phenomenon for themselves, and without another word, he would begin running back toward the town square, while the Battle Vixens had kept a low profile so as to not be detected.
Aege: Here at last, huh?
Elua: Those rays of light are coming from the Southwest…
Heal-Do: The Southwest? You don't mean Britoniah, do you?
Elua: That's exactly what I mean!
Aege: So our fastest ticket outta here is the western exit. Let's see if we can leave without being spotted.
Lupi: Like it matters! We'll crush them this time; stealth is for cowards!
The fiery female knight snatched her Hellfire Lance from Aege's forge and began to storm off into the city. Before they could come up with any alternative, the remaining three sisters equipped themselves with their respective weapons and followed their brash elder sister out of the City of Magic.
Cutting through the center of town, the Battle Vixens would seemingly be in the clear, until they would reach a set of stairs in which the way was obscured by a barricade of ice on the top stair.
Thiji: So you were here…
Aege: Shit, they saw us! Elua! Can't your falcon break through this barrier?
Elua, petting Mukuhawk: He could, but Mukuhawk is still recovering from the Emperium Jungle… I don't want to push him this time.
Heal-Do: But we can't just wait for the ice to dissipate! And going the long way would only hinder us!
Raien had arrived to his companions' side seconds later.
Raien: Sorry, guys. I came as soon as I saw the beams of light. What's with the Ice Wall?
Ray & Lee: Battle Vixens.
Raien: Dammit, not now…! Well, we can't just do nothing. We should hold them off!
The Ninja readied a Fuma Shuriken as he took to a battle stance.
Thiji: Ray. Lee. Didn't you two leave your weapons behind back at the Emperium Fortress?
Ray: Oh, crap, you're right…! We left them there hoping that this would be a short trip!
Lee: That's okay, Ray. We'll just find a Kafra lady and teleport there in an instant!
Raien: Yeah, you two get your belongings. Thiji and I will handle this.
Thiji: I am as ready as I will ever be…
The Gun-Knight and the Monk immediately head to a nearby Kafra employee that was spectating the sudden ice wall. She also had two fingers to her ear, as if communicating with someone far away. When she saw the two young men approach her, she bade her colleague to hold on as she attended to them.
"Oh, hello, White Trinity!" Kafra Pavianne greeted. "Strange happenings, isn't it? What can I help you with today?"
"Pavianne, we need a teleport to our Emperium Fortress, please," Ray said hurriedly as he flashed a special voucher. In response to this, the violet-haired Kafra turned her head away slightly, as if worried.
"What is it, Miss?" asked the Monk.
"Well, I would be happy to teleport you straight there," Pavianne began, "but according to what I've been told, White Trinity no longer has ownership over the Emperium Fortress…"
"WHAT?!" shouted all four White Trinity members, as Thiji and Raien had overheard them whilst holding off the Battle Vixens. The Ice Wall had begun to crack…
"What could have happened?!" Lee wondered.
"We don't have time for games, Pavianne!" Ray exclaimed, but the look on her face was proof enough that she was telling the truth. The Gun-Knight growled in annoyance before saying, "Okay, fine. Just take us to Prontera and we'll hoof it from there."
"It'll cost you," Pavianne replied. Without a second thought, Ray took out a bag containing exactly 1,500 Zeny to the Kafra, in which she would begin the teleportation procedure.
"Lost our HQ and now we're outnumbered 2 to 1…" Raien sighed as the Ice Wall would continue breaking until finally shattering at Lupi's attacks.
"Knock, knock, assholes!" she screamed as she ascended the staircase.
"If you fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; whereas death is certain if you cling to your corner," spoke Thiji, giving another of his strategic quotes as he conjured a Frost Diver on the ground.
"As if I'm dying today!" the lightning Shinobi scoffed, preparing himself for battle.
At Prontera Field, Ray and Lee were already well out of the city limits and heading into Mt. Mjolnir thanks to a Peco Peco they rented from Prontera Chivalry…
Ray: Man, whoever took our Fortress from under our noses is going down so hard!
Lee: Hell, yeah, they're definitely not getting off easy for this!
Quickening their advance, the two would eventually make it to Mt. Mjolnir, and the Emperium Fortress would appear on the horizon. As they moved closer and closer to it, however, they would notice something different about it – namely the banners hanging from its marble walls.
Lee: Ray, haven't we seen that emblem before?
Ray: Yeah, you're right… (Gasps) No… it can't be -!
Familiar Voice, chuckling evilly: Oh-ho, but it is!
It was the colors of the Holy Saviors guild, and its four chosen elite emerged from the balcony overlooking the front gate. Botan and Momiji taunted them with stuck-out tongues and mocking laughter. Youmei seemed reluctant as she turned her head away, as if ashamed, her silken, auburn tresses obscuring her face from the two down below.
Botan: Yes! We finally got one up on you guys!
Momiji: Prontera is ours! The Holy Saviors have won this day!
Ray: You… you wenches!
Momiji: The nerve to call us wenches! You shall not speak to us so lowly!
The two of them would harry Ray and Lee with Holy Light blasts, putting them on the defensive as they attempted to locate their gear.
Ray: Dammit, we're defenseless! To Acolytes! Wait, I still have my guns…
Lee: And I have my fists!
Ray: Guess we got so worked up that we didn't think straight…
The Gun-Knight removed his revolver from its holster and aimed it at the twins...
Ray: All right, now it's our turn to – huh?
… but to his annoyance, Ray had noticed the magazine chamber was completely empty.
Lee: You didn't even bring any bullets?!
Ray: I told you, I thought it was just gonna be a quick trip to Geffen and back!
Tsubaki, laughing heartily: Oh, this is rich! The great leader of White Trinity, forgets to bring his only means of defending himself!
Lee: Watch it, Tsubaki! You're just lucky we don't have them on us right now!
As the Monk said as such, Youmei had returned, carrying the Gladiator Blade that was wielded by Ray and the Knuckle Dusters Lee used, along with their miscellaneous provisions. She threw them over the ledge and they would land several yards in front of them; Tsubaki and the Acolyte twins looked at the Crusader in befuddlement.
Lee: What…? Our gear…!
Ray: What's this all about?!
Tsubaki: I'd like to know myself…
She remained silent for a few seconds, staring at her comrades, and then down at Ray and Lee. She would then move over to the ledge and pointed her Holy Blade at them.
Youmei: Ray Kaza and Lee of White Trinity.
Before the two of them had any time to respond, she would gesture to their belongings once more.
Youmei: While I find no joy or pleasure in usurping this Emperium Fortress from you –
Tsubaki: Wait a minute! We took this fair and square!
Youmei: Hush, Youmei. 'Twas by your hand this deed was done, and though we now have a base of operations, it was still an act of cowardice.
Tsubaki, growling: The nerve…
Youmei, back to Ray & Lee: Nevertheless, I owe you, and the Holy Saviors owes you a debt that shall be repaid this very moment. Take your equipment and return to your friends. But know that when we meet again, we shall do so as enemies; may our future battles be honorable and glorious.
After her monologue, Youmei sheathed her sword and turned on the heel of her foot and walked away. Botan and Momiji followed suit, along with Tsubaki after giving one last mocking glare to them, but pushed aside the "act of cowardice" Youmei had called it. Regaining their bearings, Ray and Lee reequipped themselves and would begin leaving the area…
"Oh, man…" Lee said with a worried voice. "What do we tell the others?"
"What do you mean?!" Ray asked, almost defensively. "They'll know sooner or later, so it may as well be sooner! I know it blows our minds knowing our friend is now our enemy, but we gotta keep our heads straight or we're done for!"
Lee sighed and would search the bags for some fly wings to expedite their journey back to Geffen. Meanwhile, Thiji and Raien were already engaged with the forces of the Battle Vixens, and they are holding their own thanks to Raien's ninjutsu and Thiji's command over ice magic. Behind them stood another Ice Wall that blockaded the western entrance to the city; the Wizard's quick thinking prevented the Battle Vixens from a hit-and-run attack, and that the fight be focused solely on the two of them…
Raien, tossing Kunai at the Vixens while dodging arrows: Where are those two?! We're already losing the resources we came all the way out here to get!
Thiji, blocking Lupi's attack: They'll be here, just hold fast!
Lupi had overpowered Thiji and he was wide open for an attack. She would deliver a powerful thrust into his stomach, but would be caught off-balance by Raien who intercepted with a lightning strike. Aege made short work of his clones whilst Elua prepared an Arrow Shower, and they would soon be overrun.
Aege: We got 'em now!
Elua: Watch the arrows rain down!
Raien: Aww, man, we're screwed…
Lupi launched herself into the air and charged her lance with fire energy, preparing for an empowered Magnum Break, but just as gravity was about to pull her down after reaching the top of her jump, Lee appeared just in time with a Raging Trifecta Blow to stagger the Knight, followed by a Heavy Tackle – a technique he learned from Kafra Nora way back when – and sent her flying back toward the stairs which led to the inner ring of the city. A barrage of bullets would then emerge and with pinpoint accuracy, split the hail of arrows in half, canceling Elua's Arrow Shower…
Raien: Guys, you're late as hell! They're not letting up for a second!
Thiji: And they hit like fully-loaded trucks.
Ray: Give us a break, guy! We were ambushed by the Holy Saviors!
Lee: Yeah… can't believe we lost like that.
Raien: The hell do you mean, "lost?!"
Ray: Wait, what's a truck?
Thiji: Forget it; head out through the western exit. Those beams of energy were coming from that direction.
Ray: Uh, Thiji? I don't know if you haven't noticed, but the exit is kinda blocked by your Ice Wall…
Thiji: Trust me. Just run straight through!
Raien: We don't have time to argue. Let's get out of Geffen while we still have the lead!
They would do so, and White Trinity ran at top speed out of the city. As they neared the Ice Wall, Thiji and Raien didn't let up, but Ray and Lee, still skeptical, slowed their pace. Lupi and her sisters recovered from the brawl, spectating their cowardly adversaries' retirement. Then, what they saw next threw them for a loop: Thiji and Raien had phased through the Ice Wall with no issues! Ray and Lee, relieved to see this, would accelerate and head straight through the barricade as well without fear of being harmed.
Aege: What in the fuck did I just see…?
Heal-Do: They… they went straight through that Ice Wall!
As they reached the city limits, Thiji snapped his fingers, and at the blink of an eye, the Ice Wall did not melt, nor did it shatter into a million pieces; it vanished into thin air…
Elua: An illusion! They combined their magicks to trick us into fighting them! Wow… that's pretty damn impressive… that Raien is full of surprises.
Heal-Do: You mean Lord Thiji…
Aege: What did you just call him?
Heal-Do: Er, I mean –
As the other three sisters chatted amongst themselves over the recent predicament, Lupi would see a Peco Peco stables out of the corner of her eye, and sported a sly grin as she stood back up and approached it…
In the outskirts of Geffen, White Trinity would stop for a moment to catch their breath. Before them lied a vast plains area overlooking a large river. This river would actually be part of a massive lake that encircled Geffen, which would explain the circular structure. The western entrance into the city was connected by a large drawbridge made of marble that would lead into a forest.
Thiji: My… what a large bridge.
Raien: Geffen's Mages are totally overcompensating for something.
Ray: Yeah, well, we gotta cross this thing; it's our fastest ticket toward the source of where those lights were coming from.
Lee: No kidding. Let's hurry up and move.
Ray, loading his gun: I got point.