All four groups reached the flag at the same time and their plan proceeded exactly as discussed. There were more guards at the enemy flag than expected, but Abomitable had brought so many of his own team that he was not concerned at all. Their enemies could not say the same.
"Did you bring everyone?!" Smokey cried as he watched his enemies emerge right out of the shadows (in Nevermore's case, this was literal).
"Nah, we're just really good at planning!" Abomitable grinned before blasting him with a bitingly cold wind and freezing him in place.
"Remember, I specialize in smoke, and in fires that aren't necessarily bright, but are still powerful!" Smokey warned Abomitable with chattering teeth. He managed to conjure up a tiny, sputtering flame. It wasn't much, but it withstood Abomitable's next icy blast and before he could try a third time, a nearby Phytomage came to Smokey's aid. Using her magic, she had the branches of the trees reach out like hands for Abomitable.
"Karma!" Smokey snickered as Abomitable suddenly found himself as immobilized and ensnared as Smokey.
"Jerk," Abomitable pouted. At the same time, Smokey's fire began to grow. But because he was focusing more on the heavy heat rather than the blinding flames, it didn't take long for the sky to become even darker, and some of the players found themselves struggling to breath. Smokey was careful not to actually choke anyone out, but with so much smoke trapping them in place, the air grew heavy nonetheless.
In response, some of Abomitable's team retreated, but others stayed. Sonorhc and her fellow Necromages were one example. Or rather, the large stag they'd managed to resurrect together was an example. While the Necromages themselves retreated, they sent their skeletal stag inward on their behalf. It was a large, terrifying creature, looking even more nightmarish in the dim, flickering flames. The smoke billowed around its bones.
"Now that's something out of a horror film!" Abomitable remarked with pride as the stag waved its antlers threateningly.
Then Nevermore and her fellow Umbramages were the second group of people to stay behind in the smokey fray.
"I can't believe you thought a blinding tactic would work on a team that has Umbramages on it!" Nevermore cried, then she and her companions quickly morphed into living shadows. Although the air was still a bit hot and thick, the blinding nature of the smoke was no longer an issue. And then, in an unexpected twist, it ultimately became Nevermore who got the flag. While her fellow Umbramages flanked her to protect her, she charged forward and grabbed the enemy flag from its pedestal. She waved it high in the air in triumph.
"Sweet, sweet victory!" she shouted, then a second later, she had vanished again, melting into the shadows once more, taking the flag with her.
20 minutes later, everyone was back at the clearing once more.
"Good game, everyone, good game!" Smokey cried. High-fives and back-slaps were exchanged, as were an array of amusing stories.
"Sooooo, I hear you demolished a large portion of the forest, eh?" Reaper sidled over to Blazeit and nudged him teasingly.
"Yeah, I thought we agreed not to do that," Abomitable also teased the blushing Pyromage.
"It wasn't my fault!" he cried, raising his hands defensively.
"Really? The brightest and most heated Pyromage of us all says that an inferno wasn't his fault?" Smokey deadpanned and scoffed.
"Nevermore scared the crap out of me!" Blazeit cried, trying to pin the blame on someone else.
"Hey, bro, that's on you," Nevermore scoffed, still looking quite pleased with her little victory. "I wasn't even in shadow form!"
"Wait, what? Are you saying you got spooked by Nevermore?" Reaper began to laugh. "How did you manage to get scared by her?!"
"Hey!" Nevermore's triumphant smirk turned into an adorable pout, but Reaper was laughing too hard to hear her. In the background, Sonorhc had to muffle a laugh as well. Her three undead birds were still "alive" and kicking. She had one on either shoulder and one on top of her head. She knew she would have to send them back to the grave eventually (it took too much energy to keep them alive and she had no more need of them), but she decided to let them stay around at least until the end of the night. Why not? They were cute. And even if they were more like vessels or empty shells than actual, living birds, Sonorhc still felt mildly attached to them and didn't want to send them away too soon.
The other Necromage, the one with the cat, had done likewise. In fact, they were even contemplating on keeping the cat as a new pet. And this was actually a very good and common practice amongst Necromages, to keep resurrected animals as pets. It helped train their abilities to keep larger mammals alive around the clock, rather than just digging up some old bones for a one-and-done mission.
"Come on! Tell us! Tell us what happened!" Reaper urged Nevermore once she finally had her laughter under control.
"This was before we had an official plan," Nevermore began, still pouting a little at Reaper. "The game was still in its early stages and we were all still just trying to get our bearings. I was trying to get a lay of the land when I literally ran into Blazeit!" Nevermore's pout turned back into a smile. "If I can recall, he screamed higher than a soprano and, in a very poorly-executed self-defense move, sent a wall of fire at me in his panic!"
"He what?!" Reaper, Sonorhc, Abomitable and Smokey all cried out in shock and concern.
"I panicked!" Blazeit tried to defend himself, blushing even hotter than before. "Besides, it wasn't a wall of fire, I was trying to make a shield in case she had a projectile weapon, or was going to attack. My fire wouldn't have touched her. It wasn't like I was sending a jet of flames at her!"
"Luckily, the light from the fire gave me just the shadow I needed in order to escape unharmed," Nevermore continued smugly. "But yeah, I'm pretty sure that that's what started the inferno in the southeast side of the forest!" she added with a laugh, concluding her tale.
"Ah, that explains why we missed it!" Reaper whispered to Sonorhc, the two of them having been headed north at the time.
"Well, thank goodness the Hydro- and Phytomages could fix your mess," Smokey sighed and rolled his eyes. Blazeit only smiled sheepishly.
"Let's just never speak of this night again!" he said as the aforementioned Hydro- and Phytomages returned. While the former had put out the fire, the latter helped the plants grow back. That area of the forest still wouldn't be 100% for a few weeks, but at least the damage hadn't been lasting.
"Oh, too late!" Nevermore teased, pulling out her phone.
"You didn't get pictures, did you?" Blazeit looked horrified.
"No," Nevermore admitted. "But I'm still going to tell all my online friends about it! Consider it revenge for nearly frying my face off!"
"Oh, but did you want pictures?" one of the Phytomages asked, pulling out his own phone. The girl beside him did likewise.
"When we went back to regrow everything, we got some lovely shots of the burnt and barren land!" she teased. Blazeit looked mortified.
"So did we!" a Hydromage grinned, having overheard the Phytomages. They actually managed to get a shot of a tree burning.
"Ooooh, sweet, sweet victory!" Nevermore cried again as the pics were texted around the circle. "I'm putting this on my Tumblr!"
"Why am I not surprised you have a Tumblr?" Blazeit tried to find someone else to tease, but his blunder had been so great that his attempt failed.
"My user is "The Raven and the Writing Desk" if you wanna find me, and my future post about your enormous mistake!" Nevermore grinned cheerfully. The others all laughed while Blazeit continued to blush hotly. But even though he was the butt of tonight's big joke, it had just been too satisfying of a game for him to stay angry or embarrassed for too long. Soon enough, he was laughing along with everyone else again.
"We need to do this more often," Sonorhc snickered as Reaper sent her the photos, and everyone else agreed with her 100%, even Blazeit.
AN: Just a long, stupid story of these mages goofing off and being friends, all while using an array of awesome-sauce powers.