Chapter 11

A Flawed Treaty

As Raiko headed toward the castle she was accompanied by several of the town guards as well as Julious. They were walking across a long golden bridge lined with ruby stones which arched over a river that separated the castle from the city. The sun now hung low in the sky, giving all of the gold and even the river an orange glow. When they reached the castle gates the guard captain demanded entry and four more guards from inside struggled to push the gates open. If the outside of this magnificent castle was impressive, it was nothing when compared to the inside. not only were the walls golden, but they were lined with rubies and diamonds, and the floor was made of pure emerald, purposely cracked to give it that feel of having always been there. the furniture was made of the finest and most expensive material. Red drapes hung over murals of past kings. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling with glowing diamonds rather than candles and to top it all off, there were bags of gold and jewels just laying against walls everywhere you looked.

"I'm so glad that I'm dealing with someone humble." Stated Raiko, sarcastically.

"Yes, king Mizby the fifth is a very generous man." Said the guard captain. "He graciously provides the citizens of Nephis with loans when they can't afford to pay their taxes."

"You call putting an entire kingdom into debt gracious?" She asked him with a raised brow. The guard captain cleared his throat.

"Yes, well... Anyway the king is a very busy man." He explained. "Try not to waste too much of his time."

They soon came upon a wall with a large double sapphire door which was rounded off at the top and a guard on either side. They stopped in front of it as the guard captain demanded entry. At once the two stationed guards obeyed, pulling the doors open to reveal the thrown room. It was much like the rest of the castle, except now there were drapes, flags and banners hanging off the ceiling as well as the walls, and there were thousands of gold coins scattered across the floor. Raiko had an amusing thought of what Rez would do if he was here with her, smirking slightly before pushing the thought aside. As they walked in a ways they found the king, a young and slightly over weight man, sitting on his throne while playing cards down onto the table that sat right in front of him.

"He's playing solitaire?" Raiko asked, feeling a little baffled. Hearing her voice, the king looked up at the group as though he wasn't aware that anyone had come in.

"What is the meaning of this intrusion?" Said Mizby, still a little startled by their sudden appearance.

"I apologize for the interruption, your majesty. This woman has saved our kingdom from an elemental attack and..." The guard stopped long enough to look back at Raiko, who was holding up the message bottle threateningly. With a sigh, he continued. "...And she was promised a payment to be negotiated in return for her services."

"I see..." Said Mizby as he rubbed his chin, looking between Raiko and Julious. "And the two of you did this all by yourselves?"

"Well, actually..." Began Raiko, but before she could continue speaking she was bashed into the floor by a large majestic shield held by Ventra, who was standing with Marcus behind her.

"We were involved as well, thank you very much!" Ventra declared.

"Oh, it appears the dog and the rodent survived." Julious said joyously.

"Who are you calling a rodent?!" Ventra snapped back.

"Ventra, as it turns out, knows a little healing magic." Marcus interjected. "She healed me as well because she wants me to die by her hand." The king was feeling very confused now as he looked from one to the next, his eyes settling on Raiko who was now getting back up.

"Did these two really asist you?" Mizby asked. Ventra turned to respond, but at that moment Raiko slammed the shield down onto her, sending her to the floor.

"Unfortunately, yes they did." Raiko admitted.

"I see..." Mizby said as he began to rub his chin again. "Well, if you saved our kingdom then the four of you may each ask for anything you wish."

"Actually, this guy didn't do anything at all." Raiko pointed her thumb over her shoulder at Julious, who began to scratch the side of his head with a single finger.

"And we almost died, so we deserve more than Raiko!" Ventra declared as she returned to her feet. The mention of Raiko's name caused Mizby's eyes to open wider. He considered Raiko as she argued with Ventra over who deserved the bigger reward, then decided to speak.

"Would you, by chance, be Raiko Blair?"

The arguing stopped as both Raiko and Ventra turned their heads toward the king, some surprise in their eyes. Raiko then grabbed Ventra by the back of her head and threw her face-first to the floor, then pressed her foot down onto the vampress' head.

"Yes, that's me." Raiko said in repressed annoyance.

"I see." Said king Mizby, thoughtfully. "Well, then it's no wonder you managed to fight off those light creatures." Raiko felt relieved that the king wasn't afraid of her.

"Yeah, about that..." Raiko began, deciding that she should get down to business. "Perhaps as part of our reward you could grant us a passport to the elven lands?" Julian smiled, recognizing that Raiko had understood the directions he had given her earlier in the tavern.

"I cannot." The expression on Mizby's face, as well as his tone, shifted dramatically. He was now much more stern, which came as a surprise to everyone except Julian. Raiko then began to grit her teeth in anger and she marched over to the king, grabbing him by his collar as the guards drew their weapons on her.

"Listen, we put our necks on the line for your precious kingdom and if I don't get what I want then I'll have no problem becoming the next thing that threatens it!"

"It's not that I don't want to!" King Mizby began. "It's simply against the treaty, so I cannot! Now hand's off me!"

With a wave of Julious' hand, a force repelled Raiko from Mizby. Marcus managed to catch Raiko before she could fall over, and they all watched as Julian stepped forward to help present their case to the king.

"Majesty overlooks the reason for this trek. It is your interest in survival that reasons with us to allow the pass."

The king seemed confused for a moment, but he soon put together a believable meaning behind Julians words and grew a smug expression.

"My interest in survival?" He laughed. "You're talking about breaking a treaty with elves here. Whatever you could do to me would be nothing in comparison to what they could do. Their magic is far more powerful than that of humans. It's always been for as far back as history is recorded." This caused Julian to smirk.

"The pointy ear folk have an interest as well." These words confused the king even further. Finally Raiko pushed off of Marcus and stepped forward once again.

"What my senile old friend here is trying to say is that we're trying to stop something that's more powerful than even the elves, and we have to enter their lands to do it."

"Something more powerful than even the elves?" The king scoffed. "and just where is your proof of this?"

"El-a-men-tal" Julian said while waving his finger at each syllable.

Suddenly remembering the elemental attack on his kingdom, king Mizby seemed to calm down a bit, almost to the point where he might have considered himself a bit foolish. Elementals have never attacked a city like that before. They almost always required a summoner, and when they didn't they were usually higher elementals who had a purpose. The ones who attacked the kingdom, however, were lesser elementals with no summoner and seemed to be acting wildly. There have also been a flood of reports from other lands experiencing similar events with a wide variety of creatures. With some hesitation, Mizby turned away and cleared his throat.

"Yes... I suppose you have a point there." Admitted the king. "There is one way that you may cross the border into Neyru..."

"And that way is...?" Asked Ventra, who was now standing, folding her arms impatiently.

"According to the treaty..." The king began. "This kingdom switches territories every three hundred and twenty years. Therefor, as insurance of this transaction, the king is permitted to enter the neighboring lands if he feels it is necessary.

"So then, all you have to do is declare one of us the new ruler and we may pass, is that it?" Asked Marcus, and his question was met with a laugh from Mizby.

"That is correct." Said the king. "However, I cannot renounce my throne to you willingly. In order to claim my title, you must defeat me..." Mizby turned around to face Raiko and the others, a confident grin shown on his face. "In Battle!"

-

Raiko was now sitting opposite of the king at his desk, each holding some playing cards in their hands. Raiko looked from the king down to her cards. She was currently holding a Knight card, 2 Dragon cards and 2 Wizard cards. A sweat-drop formed on the side of her head.

"So... by 'battle' you were referring to the card game 'Battle.'"

"Of course." The king replied. "Did you honestly think that I would fight you for real? I'm not mad, you know? Come now, take your turn."

"But... I've never actually played this game before." Raiko explained. "I don't even know the rules."

"Oh, it's quite simple, really." King Mizby replied. "Each card has a numbered value located at the bottom middle of the card. One through ten, Scout, Leader, Captain, King, Hero and Ace. Each card is either stronger or weaker due to their suit as well, of which there are only three, and there is one wild card which can either upgrade or downgrade the value of your entire hand depending on if you're holding it angel side up or devil side up. There are also combos which can make your hand even better. Those and more are written here."

Mizby handed Raiko a small scroll, which she took and opened, glancing over the rules in an attempt to make sense of the game. The Angel/Devil card apparently increased or decreased the value of all other cards in the hand by one depending on which way it was held, and it itself could have a suit and value assigned to it. Two cards of the same value were considered commandos, and two of the same suit were suit commandos. two pairs of cards were considered a squad, three of a kind was a trio, and four was a core, which existed for suits only. Three of one kind and two of another was considered an alliance. If their values counted up from each other in numerical order it was a brigade. If all hand cards were the same suit it was a pride. If it was both a brigade and a pride it was considered a suit brigade and if it was of the highest value it was considered an order. She didn't have much time to look it all over, however, as Mizby had already tossed out a couple of his cards and replaced them with two more from the deck, and Ventra, Marcus and Julian were all standing behind Raiko, cheering her on and insisting that she make her first move.

Setting the rule scroll aside, while still glancing at it now and then, Raiko peered over her cards, then closed her eyes to focus. A moment later, to everyone's shock, she quickly pulled both wizards and both dragons from her hand and discarded them, then drew four new cards. Mizby started to laugh.

"Two dragons and two wizards?" Mizby crowed. "You tossed out a suit squad? I'm not sure that was such a wise move to make."

"You so sure?" Raiko asked, confidently. "Why don't you lay down your cards and find out?"

Her confidence filled Mizby with some doubt, but as he looked at his cards he seemed reassured that Raiko couldn't possibly have somthing better. He layed out his hand, revealing two wizards and three dragons, all of high value.

"Wizard - Dragon alliance." Mizby said proudly, pushing out his chest as he leaned back a bit in his chair. "You can't win them all, don't feel bad."

"You're right," Raiko agreed. "you can't win them all." She then proceeded to lay out her cards, which were all knights of the highest value, set in numerical order. "Order of Knights. Since you have two wizards, that cancels two of my knights, but the other three cancel your three dragons, which leaves you with Wizard Commandos and leaves me with a Knight Trio. You have the suit advantage, but my value and quantity advantage beats it. I win."

Mizby sunk into his chair, staring at Raiko's cards in disbelief. Despite the odds being heavily in his favor, he had lost. He lost not only a simple card game, but his entire kingdom as well as his title as king. This time Raiko was the one holding out her chest proudly.

"So, I guess I'm now the queen of Nephis." She said smugly. Mibzy stood up from his chair.

"W-what do you say to best two out of three?" Mizby pleaded, to which Raiko raised a brow.

"Who are you trying to kid? You said all I had to do was beat you and you'd hand over your title. Now, a deal's a deal."

"Oh... oh very well" Mizby sighed, then he slowly removed his jewel en-crested golden ring and handed it over to Raiko. She picked it up and examined it, finding that it had the letter N within the middle jewel. "That ring has an elven enchantment on it. If the elves see you wearing that, they will recognize you as the ruler of Nephis."

"Oh, so it's an identity enchantment. I got it." She stood as she slipped the ring onto her finger, then held up her hand to gaze into it for a moment before smirking, turning to face the guard captain. "Oh cappy, front and center."

The guard captain scowled at Raiko, then hesitantly obeyed, walking over and standing before Raiko as she turned to face him. For a moment she considered stomping on his foot or throwing him into a prison cell, but then she remembered that starving boy from before and it gave her an even better idea.

"I want you to organize some builders and begin deconstruction all of the jewel en-crested gold structures of the kingdom to be replaced with wooden or stone structures, starting with your house." She added to make sure he was the first to feel the loss.

"B-but your majesty! To tear down an entire kingdom and rebuild it?! That would cost a fortune!"

"Well, luckily for you, this whole place is worth a fortune." Raiko shot back. "What isn't spent on the reconstruction project will be used to pay off the debts of the kingdom. Is that understood?"

"...Yes ma'am." Said the guard captain, his head hung low for a moment before saluting Raiko. "It shall be done."

"Dismissed!"

Raiko stood tall as she gave the order. The guard captain turned and headed out. After a moment, Raiko smiled rather warmly, feeling a sense of satisfaction that she hadn't felt since she was a child. For the first time in years, she had done some good. Getting back her composure, she turned to face Mizby once more.

"I'm promoting you to my advisor. Since I'm not going to be hanging around, I'll leave the kingdom in your care while I'm gone." Raiko declared. "Make sure everything runs smoothly and change some of those ridiculous laws so the people aren't unfairly punished for something minor. For example, being thrown in prison for stealing an apple?"

"Yes, your majesty." Mizby responded, and Raiko smiled as he bowed. She then turned toward Julian and the others.

"Alright, we're off to Neyru!" Raiko declared as she thrusts her fist into the air, causing Julian to applaud stupidly. As they headed out, they found that night had fallen, and they set out for their next destination.

-

The journey from Nephis to Neyru wasn't as long as Raiko had thought, as she was able to use the royal carriage. Even so, it had still taken them all night to get there. There was a definite change in scenery as all of the trees were very old and there were little blue mushrooms and curled leaf plants growing in small patches anywhere they looked. With the sun now raising through the trees, Raiko and company climbed out of the carriage and were greeted right away by the local elven guard, none of whom seemed pleased that two humans, a warewolf and a vampire had just crossed the boarder.

"Why have you set foot onto these lands?" One of the elves demanded. Raiko smirked confidently as she held up her hand so that the back of it faced the elves.

"You see this ring? According to your treaty with the humans, this marks me as the official ruler of Nephis. As such, I can set foot onto elven lands whenever I feel the need to do so."

"We do not recognize this treaty." Said another elf. "That pact was nullified two hundred years ago when the dark elves regained power within the palace."

"Hold on." Marcus interrupted. "If there was a change in elven policy, then why wasn't it mentioned?"

"Elven policy is subject to change." The elf countered. "It is up to the ruler of Nephis to stay informed of it."

"Another thing I'm sure you felt it wasn't your job to mention." Raiko said as she folded her arms in annoyance.

"Since you are here without permission..." Continued the elf "we must escort you to the prison block for trespassing into the elven lands." Everyone but Julious gasped at this statement, except of course for Ventra who simply said the word "gasp".

"This is an outrage!" Said Ventra. "We have important business here! The least you could do is hear us out!"

"I'm sure that members of the local guard will be more than happy to listen to what you have to say... through the bars of a cell." The elf said smugly as several elven guards positioned themselves around the four. "Take them away."

Raiko glared at the elven guard as she and the others were taken by the arm into a separate carriage, along with the driver of the carriage which they first arrived in. They were then taken to the prison block and placed into cells two at a time. Raiko was placed in a cell with Ventra and Marcus with Julious while the human carriage driver was by himself. Ventra continued to protest as the cell doors were locked, and the guard laughed all the way back to his post.

"Sigh of annoyance! Don't these people realize what's at stake here?!" Ventra shouted, gripping the bars of the cell tightly.

"Well, at least we're in Neyru." Marcus said, sitting on the floor with his arms folded behind his head as he leaned against the back wall.

"The atmosphere of this confinement is more favorable than most previous." Said Julious as he stood facing the side wall with a smile. Marcus gave him a strange look in response.

"I won't stand for this! I simply won't stand for this!" Shouted Ventra. She then gave a swift kick to the metal bars, then began to hop on one leg as she now held her sore foot in her hands. "Can't we just blast these bars and escape?!"

"The bars and the walls all have magic deflection barriers cast onto them." Raiko replied, laying back on one of the hard beds with her arms folded behind her head. "Any attempt we make to blast them apart with magic will just be repelled back at us. I doubt if even old man chuckles over there could over-power it."

"H-hey, can't you people do something?" Asked the carriage driver. "I have a family to get home to! I can't stay here!"

"Yes you can." Raiko said with slight annoyance. "Until something happens in our favor, none of us are going anywhere.

"Raiko, is that you?"

Raiko's eyes widened. She rolled off the bed and hurried to the bars, grabbing them and poking her head out as she looked farther down the cell block to the person who spoke, her eyes growing even wider when she saw who it was.

"Kane?!" Raiko said a bit loudly. Sure enough, a few cells down was Kane and Rez, sharing a cell together. Kane began to wave at her.

"Lady Blair, I have come to rescue you!" This statement caused Raiko to lose much of her enthusiasm as a sweat drop formed on the side of her head.

"Save us?!" Ventra asked, sharply. "You're locked up with us, you brainless brute!"

"So, how did you manage to get here so quickly?" Marcus asked, still sitting against the back wall of his cell.

"Well, after we escaped from barrier tower, we began heading for Neyru." Rez explained. "We soon came upon an imperial city and knew we'd be caught if we just walked in, so Julious suggested that we knock out a few of the guards and pose as them. Eventually...

"Wait, hold on a second." Raiko interrupted. "How could Julious have been with you? He's been with us the whole time.

"What do you mean?" Kane asked. "He's right here in our cell with us, staring at the wall.

Right on cue, the Julious that was with Kane and Rez walked to the cell bars and peeked his head out. At the same time, the Julious staying with Markus peeked his head out. Both of them then began to wave at each other.

"I guess Julious has the power of co-location."

"Huh? You mean he can copy locations?"

"Well, that's half right..." Raiko admitted. "It's like teleportation, but instead of going from one location to another, you bring the other location to you and layer them on top of each other so you're in both places at once. However, I don't think that's what Julious is doing here..." Everyone turned their attention to Raiko now.

"What else could he be doing?" Asked Ventra, seeming just as confused as the others.

"When you use co-location, you're still one person. Everything you do, the other you would be doing as well. However, both Julious' are moving independently from each other... That means that he actually copied himself and is either in direct control of both or managed to copy his personality to the other..."

"Either that, or one of them is an impostor." Marcus added, now eying their Julious suspiciously."

"Assuringly to you, my authenticity is quite genuine" Both Julious' said in unison. This surprised Marcus, but caused Raiko to place her face into the palm of her hand.

"Well, so much for that pipe dream." Raiko said with a slight groan. "Apparently they're both him, so now we have two of him on our hands..."

"But if ours is a copy, then how did he end up in barrier tower with us?" Rez asked, turning his head toward his Julious. "He wasn't with us when we were captured, but he was there when we were thrown into the cell." This caused Raiko's eyes to widen, still hidden by her hand.

"Well, I guess he must have known where we were going and got himself captured first?" Kane suggested as he looked over at Rez.

"Hm... You have a point there." Rez admitted. Raiko lowered her hand and stared over at Kane and Rez's Julious for a moment.

"Now that that's settled, finish the story!" Demanded Ventra. "You disguised yourselves as guards, and then eventually...?"

"Oh, right. "Rez turned to face the others, getting back on track. "Well, as imperial guards we had to follow the orders given to us. So when we heard that a bunch of us were being sent to the elven boarder, I decided that we should volunteer to go. So we and several of the real guards were sent by ship and once we got here we tried to sneak passed the boarder, but were caught in the process. The elves threatened war and so we showed them that we were not imperial guards, but they still saw our trespassing as reason enough to imprison us. So, here we are."

"There's still something I don't understand." Marcus interjected. "Even if you did disguise yourselves as guards, one of you is completely blind. How did the others not notice a guard with bandages over his eyes?"

"Magical magic!" Said the Julious that was with Kane and Rez. "A re-figuration of visuals allowed for the preferred substitution."

"Yeah, they didn't even notice my cursed leg." Added Kane as he pulled off his armored boot and showed his blackened leg to the others. "I only had to explain my limp as a battle injury and they didn't ask any more about it."

"Wait, you have a cursed leg?" Raiko asked, looking at the leg now as she smirked. "You finally did something right! All Julious has to do is absorb the curse and...

"No can do." Julious said plainly. Raiko glared at him.

"Hey, do you want that atlas or not, old man? You're the only magic user here who's close enough to reach his leg."

"You desire the end result of this trek as well." Julious responded. If this puzzle proves to outweigh your capabilities, then the companion preference shifts.

"In other words, if we can't do this without your help, then we're useless to you in your quest to get the Oblivion Atlas..." Raiko translated, then gave a soft sigh before looking around for other options.

"I don't get it... What can you use my cursed leg for?" Asked Kane as he put his boot back on.

"Raiko was planning on using your curse to degrade the magic deflection barriers covering this place." Rez informed him. "With there power degraded, there's a chance that we could blast free, with some risk of injury, of course.

"Oh, I see... But can't she just make her arm magically stretch over here so she can reach my cursed leg?"

"That would require magic, Kane." Raiko explained. "If I tried something like that, my arm would... hmm..."

"What is it?" Kane asked, feeling slightly confused. Raiko then turned to face him.

"Hold out your cursed leg again." Demanded Raiko. Kane still seemed confused, but removed his boot once more and held out his leg. Raiko then held out her arm as she used her other hand to wave magic over it.

"Minimalize..." As Raiko said the word, her arm began to glow, then extended in a wavy fashion through the prison block. She eventually made it wave toward Kane's foot, placing her hand onto his ankle.

"Wha...?! I though you said you couldn't do that?" Kane said in shock as both Julious' smirked.

"The barriers inside this place are magic deflection barriers." Raiko explained. "That means that whatever magic we use is deflected back and used against us. So, when I realized that using a spell to make my arm grow would make it shrink, I used a spell to make my arm shrink and it made it grow."

"But these are elves..." Ventra insisted. "Surely they wouldn't be out-smarted so easily..."

"Elves may be powerful, skillful and wise, but even they can't possibly plan for every situation. Especially not the dark elves."

Raiko began to use her magic to pull the curse out of Kane's rotting leg, which slowly faded to a pale white as the curse left it. Kane gripped the cell bars tightly as the process hurt quite a bit. Rez's eyebrows dropped low as he lowered his head seeming to suddenly notice something.

"Hurry, one of the guards are approaching." Rez warned them. Raiko finished pulling the curse out of Kane's leg and into her own hand. The curse countered the magic within her arm and caused it to shrink back to normal. She then placed her cursed hand against the ceiling outside of her cell, causing the barrier to fluctuate visually. She then closed her eyes tightly, preparing herself for what she had to do next.

"Detonation!" Raiko called out. Her hand glowed for a moment, then seemed to burst along with much of the roof of the prison, leading outside as they were held under ground next to the above ground portion of the structure.

"Ms. Blair, are you alright?" Kane asked as Raiko now cradled her hand, skinned of all it's flesh and bleeding badly.

"I'll be fine... now climb!" Raiko ordered. Kane nodded and began to climb out along with Rez. Marcus changed into a wolf and leaped out while Ventra flew out as a bat. Both Julious' simply teleported out and formed back together after appearing in mid-air and Raiko levitated herself out. Kane then reached back in for the carriage driver.

"Take my hand." The carriage driver nodded and then proceeded to do so. Kane lifted the man out and set him onto the ground, then dropped to one knee as he held his rotted foot, flinching from the pain.

"Are you alright...?" Asked the carriage driver. Kane simply smirked to him.

"Don't worry about me. Head back home right now." The carriage driver nodded, then ran off. They could hear the guards coming and turned toward one another.

"What do we do now? Kane asked.

"We run as fast as we can." Marcus replied, then they all began to run. They didn't get very far, though, before they found themselves surrounded by elven battle mages. One of them called out "Fire" and the others began casting their attack spells. One by one their spells hit their targets, taking down Kane, Marcus, Ventra and Rez. Even Raiko, who tried to put up a barrier only to have it blasted away with such a force that it tossed her onto her back. Only Julius was still standing after the initial attack, having the blast aimed at him magically pass right through his body as though he wasn't there.

"Attack the elderly one!" One of the elves shouted, then all fire power was focused on him. Julious held out his hands to his sides and put up a magical barrier as the elves attacked, their spells hitting the barrier and remaining stationary. As Raiko began to get up, she could see that Julious was actually struggling to hold the spells back. After another moment Julious raised his hands up and clapped them together with a grin on his face, sending out a shock-wave which bounced the spells back, striking several of the battle mages and causing them to fall over as Julious hopped up and down with joy, seeming to take great pleasure in this. Raiko stood up as she held her good hand out to her side.

"Wind Fire!" As Raiko called out her spell, she pulled her hand across her field of view and to her other side. This caused a wall of horizontal flames to come rushing through over the battle mages like a strong breeze, singing the ones who were down, but the ones who were still standing had formed barriers to protect themselves. They then fired more blasts of magic at Raiko, and she dodged them only to be hit by the ones coming at her from behind. The blasts singed her left leg and right shoulder in the back, causing her to fall to the ground again. The battle mages soon countered her fire spell and began to advance as Julious held out his staff which he had just formed in his hand.

"Enough!"

This voice caused everyone to halt as a female elf appeared in the middle within a bright glowing light. The light faded as Rez, Kane, Ventra and Marcus all began to get up again, struggling as they had been hit pretty hard before. The elven female had long, blond hair and deep blue eyes, and she was dressed in what appeared to be light blue, commoner attire, which was quite fancy when compared to most human clothing.

"W-who are you?" Marcus asked with a strain to his voice.

"My name is Fiona Rivers, princess of the elven people. At least, I was until the dark elves reclaimed power over the lands."

"A princess, huh? How cliche is that?" Asked Raiko under her breath.

"Silence, woman!" One of the battle mages shouted. "You no longer have jurisdiction! Step aside at once!"

"Never, you'll have to stop me if you can! Seismic Fissure!"

As Fiona called out her spell, she raised her hand up, then dropped it to the ground. The battle mages took aim, only to have the ground they were standing on tossed back and seemingly pulled out from under their feet. Several of them fell back and began to roll down hill while a few of them took flight to aim down at the sinking strip of land on which Raiko and the others stood. As they began to fire, though, the slanding lands closed above the sinking strip of land, concealing them within a make-shift under ground tunnel, but it was to solid for the magical attacks to penetrate. She then closed her hands together as a magical barrier of some sort formed along the walls.

"Hurry, we don't have much time." Fiona said as the others finally stood. "I know all about your objective and I wish to help."

"But why would you help us? Kane asked, only to get shoved forward by Raiko.

"There's no time to argue, just get going before they head us off!" Raiko shouted, then everyone began to run down the tunnel as Julius took lead of the others, floating while seeming to be sitting back against the air with arms folded behind hie head, saying something about lemmings as they disappeared into the darkness under the forest.