Inside the bandits' cave, a barrier held both Grace, a Novice rank mercenary and her opponent, Rifyl, a skilled Connector bandit. Rifyl looked at her and laughed. "Come on girl. How long are you going to keep this up?" he asked. Grace had been dodging her enemy's projectiles instead of actually fighting. I just have to keep this up a little longer, only until Schwarz and Steill get the princess, she thought.

"You don't really think you can get out of this without fighting do you?" his expression soon evolved into a fierce one. "If you're not going to take this fight seriously, I'm just going to have to kill you!" he yelled. He raised both his arms in the air and extended each of his fingers. "Golden Horde: Double Chariot!" he cried out and twenty small blasts of Link shot out towards Grace.

Damn it. I guess it was going to happen sooner or later. As the small blasts approached her, she reached her arms out in front of her with open hands. "Camellia!" she yelled, activating her Bond. A shield of Link soon appeared in front of her and with it, the small blasts were nullified.

"Is this what you wanted you creep?" she asked.

"Yes, this is exactly what I wanted. Now we can fight for real!" he exclaimed, a large smile spreading across his face. He shot more blasts but they were blocked by her shield again.

"If that's your only move then this is totally going to get really boring really fast you lamer," she said.

He wagged is finger and shook his head. "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to count your chickens before they hatch little girl?"

A surprised look covered Grace's face as she looked behind her. Not all of the blasts were blocked by her shield and they were headed straight for her!

She reacted quickly with her keen ability to think on her toes. "Camellia: Blooming Flower!" With those words, the shield that was in front of her expanded and became a full sized force field and blocked the oncoming attack.

"How do you like that, loser?" she said in a prideful manner.

"Not bad, but if making shields is all you can do, I have to say, this battle is going to be pretty boring," he replied.

"Oh trust me; I have more up my sleeve. Just wait, you're going to love every minute of this fight!" she yelled while pointing at Rifyl. The bandit just laughed.

"I hope so!"

"Dispose of me like trash?" Thorino asked me. "We'll see about that!" he yelled as he charged over towards me and Steill. He swung his axe at my face but I was able to duck before he made contact. I swung my sword in an attempt to slash his head and end this quickly but he blocked it. This guy's pretty fast. With our weapons locked, we strived to overpower the other but to no avail. He then kneed me in the gut. As I keeled over he slammed the handle of his battle axe on my head and I hit the ground.

"Schwarz!" Steill yelled. I wish he would do something instead of standing there and yelling my name.

Thorino ran over towards Steill in trying to attack him. I got up and ran to Thorino with my sword ready to kill him. Before he had a chance to slash at Steill, I lunged at him. He reacted quickly and blocked my attack. I attempted another hit but he blocked it again. He then tried to slash at me but I quickly blocked it. We both tried again and again to kill each other however our weapons continued to clash as we blocked the other's attack.

I backed off and tried to catch my breath and think of a strategy. This guy is pretty damn strong. Looks like the only way I'll get the better of him is to use my Bond. Not a second later, Steill runs to my side.

"Hey Schwarz, I think the only way to really kill this guy is to use our Bonds," he said.

"Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing."

"Alright! Let's do it!" he yelled like the over eager idiot that he is.

"Right," I said calmly.

"Let's go!" we said at the same time as Link gathered around the both of us.

"Reckless Surge!" Steill yelled.

"Reaper of Shadows," I said. The Link in my body began to resonate and I began to feel the true power of a Connector.

Thorino laughed. "Well, that's good for you two. Hopefully now this fight can be a little more interesting than befo-,"

He stopped his jeering as soon as he noticed my sword about to slice his head off. Fortunately for him, he was able to block in time.

"What? So you got a little faster. Is this your Bond?" he asked.

"It is. But it's only a very small part of it," I said as I pushed my sword against his axe, forcing him back.

"So you got stronger too. That's not really all that impressive," he said. Steill's voice then began to resound throughout the entire cave room.

"If you don't think that's impressive, then maybe you'll like this!" he yelled.

Thorino looked up. Steill had jumped above him.

"Reckless Surge: Scorched Air!" he yelled. He inhaled a large amount of air and then exhaled fire directly at the bandit leader. Thorino backed away, dodging fast enough for the fire not to touch him.

"Nice, you kids are pretty extraordinary!" he laughed.

"Don't get excited just yet," I told him.

He looks over to me with an astonished look on his face. I held my sword in a position ready to slash. Black Link from within my body starts to swarm and surround the blade of my sword. Link normally isn't visible unless it's strong. This was strong and he could definitely feel its power.

"This, Thorino, is the power of my Bond. Now experience it! Reaper of Shadows: Hell's Anger!" I yelled as I launched the massive black Link at him. It tore through the air and the immense pressure of the Link in the attack alone shredded the ground below. As t connected, the raw power of it made a loud roar throughout the room. As the dust from the attack settled, Thorino struggled to stand. His body was bloody and his clothes were torn just about everywhere. Steill stood next to me with his mouth gaping in awe. I smirked as I looked at the once proud bandit leader.

"Well you know what they say, pride goes before the fall," I claimed smugly. Then I heard a faint, raspy sound that grew louder and louder. It was Thorino. He began to laugh uncontrollably. I sensed an intense fluctuation in his Link. He was ready to kill.

"You kids are a class act. I knew I'd be able to enjoy myself. Looks like this will be a lot more fun than I had hoped," he said. "Get ready. You both showed me your Bonds, well here's mine! Complete Iron Tyrant!" he yelled. The wounds on his body cleared up and his skin started to cover itself with a sort of metallic substance.

"Now we can really fight!" he yelled. He charged towards Steill and swung his axe. Steill jumped back onto the wall behind him, hopped off of it and kicked Thorino's face. Thorino was unfazed by the attack. He grabbed Steill's leg and threw him at me. I dodged as Steill hit a wall.

Steill got up, brushing dirt off of his shoulder. He and I ran towards Thorino. We split up. I attacked his left side and he attacked his right. As I tried to slash at him, he blocked me with his axe. I then heard Steill yell "Reckless Surge: Scorched Air" as he proceeded to use his fire breath on him again. Instead of dodging it this time, he merely held up his right hand and blocked it. I tried to push through his guard and Steill was breathing as hard as he could but we weren't able to overpower him. I tried to swing again but he countered with his axe and sent me flying. With the same swing, he slashed Steill across the chest and sent him flying too.

He laughed his haughty, raspy laugh. "Oh come now. Where is all that power and youthful vigor that was present just a second ago? Don't tell me that's all the power you have. That's just no good!" he said. He threw his axe high in the air.

"Complete Iron Tyrant: Encased Pain," His fists began to charge with Link. He threw a punch to his left, my way and one to Steill on his right. Before I could react I was hit hard in the chest with the full, intense force of the technique. I felt my chest crush and I fell over, coughing up blood. He laughed at us again.

"Do you feel that pain? That is the pain of children dying of starvation. That is the pain of families with no homes or shelter. That is the pain of the poor of Tihs! You've never felt this pain before. If you did, you'd be able realize that I'm doing all of this because I stand for something. I have a will, a drive. I have something to keep me going," he told us with increasing volume.

I managed to get back on my feet. Steill did the same, stumbling on his way up however. I planted my sword in the ground, using it to lean on as I caught my breath.

"Oh, so you can still stand? That's not bad," he said.

"Not bad doesn't cover the half of it. We're nowhere near done with you asshole!" Steill yelled. His body surged wildly with Link. I picked up my sword from out of the ground and pointed it at Thorino.

"Get ready. We're about to end you," I told him.

Elsewhere in the cave, Grace was being bombarded with Link blasts.

"Come on little girl, I thought you had more to show me," Rifyl, her opponent, taunted.

As the barrage of attacks stopped, Grace lowered her force field. She was breathing heavily. Most of her Link was drained. It was all used as for her shields as she blocked the bandit's attack.

"You know, I had high hopes for you girl but you just turned out to be a big disappointment. I noticed those gauntlets that you're wearing and I had hoped that you'd at least use them to punch me or something. Isn't that what gauntlets are for?" he asked her.

I'd been trying to see if he had more Link than I did which he does. I tried to exhaust his power but I ended up exhausting my own instead. Well, I didn't want to use this but here it is! Grace clapped her hands together. Link began to gather in between her palms. She then spread her hands apart and wind started to swirl and collect at the center point of where she was focusing her Link.

"To answer your question, yes, normal gauntlets are supposed to be used to punch things. However, unlike my idiot teammate Steill, I'm not some brute and sadly for you, these aren't any ordinary pair of gauntlets. These are the Gauntlets of Zephyr. Get ready now! The last of all my Link is going into this attack! Camellia: Hurricane Lotus!" she exclaimed as she pushed her palms forward and released the immense wave of energy. It did significant damage to the walls of the cave and even destroyed some of the lights. It was Grace's most powerful and devastating attack.

Grace fell to her knees. Her Link was just about finished and she couldn't fight anymore. Fear and astonishment overwhelmed her though as she looked ahead and saw Rifyl standing there, perfectly fine.

"What a shame little girl, it looks like you didn't have enough Link for your attack to have the desired effect. That's just sad. Oh well, now it's time for you to die," he said as he pointed every finger at her. "Golden Horde: Thousand Chariot Rush!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. One thousand blasts headed towards Grace, ready to annihilate her. "Camellia!" she said feebly, attempting to guard the oncoming assault but it was no use. The barrage destroyed everything in its direction, or so he thought.

"What happened? I missed?" he questioned.

"Technically yes, but it would be more accurate to say that I deflected your attack," a voice said.

The dust from Rifyl's attack cleared and he got a clear look at who stopped his attack from killing the girl. He saw a man with black hair and gray eyes dressed in a white dress shirt, black tie and black pants.

"Who the hell are you?" Rifyl asked, infuriated at the man standing before him.

"I'm Riz, this girl's Captain," he answered.

"How the hell did you get passed my barrier?" he asked.

"This barrier is a lot like the ones that Grace uses. They're maintained by constantly focusing your Link into them. So when you used that powerful attack to try and kill Grace, you couldn't put as much Link into the barrier. With the barrier not being as strong as before I was able slip in and saved my subordinate," Riz told him calmly.

Rifyl's face contorted in anger and frustration. "Alright then, fine. I'll kill you and then I'll get on with killing the girl."

A smile formed on Riz's face as he let out a low laugh. "You bandits are pretty funny. Always so sure that you'll be able to kill us,"

"Don't get cocky. I'm not like that crew of rejects that you got passed outside. I'm a Connector," Rifyl bragged.

"I'm the one who should be telling you not to get cocky," Riz said. His voice all of a sudden got very low and threatening. "You couldn't even kill this little girl. What makes you think that you could even come close to killing me?"