Eight months later……
"I'm coming to get you!" Ray yelled after his current prey, his superior officer, Jada Kay.
Amazon Jada Kay, the Amazon warrior from the Magumma Jungle, was crossing the large wooden bridge. She turned her heel and took the stone steps two at a time. She continued around the hall, Ray trailing close behind her.
Ray loved his training sessions with Jada. She was so good; he always learned something new. It turns out elementals were his weakness; he had a hard time beating them. But he learned while training with her, the best way to fend off her attacks.
She was a good officer, he had to admit. Reika, their guild leader, had told him that Jada had been her second in command since the beginning. He swore to himself that he would work hard to become an officer as good as her for Reika too. He loved being in the guild so much, he promised Reika he would never leave her side.
Jada had agreed to train with Ray upon his arrival. This was their fifth session since then. They always practiced in the guild hall. They were safe here, no matter who won.
Ray was currently grouped with two of his comrades, Aiden and Satual. They had become fast friends since his first day in the guild. Ray and Satual were like brothers, best friends. The two archers had currently taken positions in the hall to block Amazon in her tracks should she pass them. Aiden stayed just behind the running pair, in case Jada turned on him and Ray got into any trouble. Satual hid well so that he had the art of surprise at his disposal.
"If you think you can catch me!" she yelled over her shoulder in response.
Jada was not as fast as Ray, but she had a few too many tricks up her sleeve.
He had to chase her in Satual's direction. With Satual hidden, and Aiden and himself behind her, she would be trapped like a rat. She would be taken down and they would be the victors, for once.
"I'm faster then you, Jada. I'll catch up eventually. How long do you think you can keep running?"
Just as she stopped and turned to hear what he had to say, he saw Satual coming up behind her. His was an incredible hunter. He was so skilled, even his pet wolf made no noise at his command. Akamaru, his own pet wolf, was keeping pace beside him. She was out numbered. She was gonna lose this time. Ray smiled. He just about had her.
"Ok, so I won't run any more," she smiled back. She loved surprising him, it was always good to teach him something new.
Jada paused a moment. She could feel eyes on her, like she was being watched. The hairs stood up on the back of her neck, someone was hiding nearby, ready to strike. She knew it was either Satual or Aiden; she thought of Satual first.
She was getting ready to fight Ray, her powers beginning to grow. He was her target. He could see she was using her energy on a elemental spell. Her body began to rise in the air, she closed in her arms. The flames circled her body.
He knew this spell, and was prepared for it this time. He was not very good at dodging it, however.
She put her arms in the air and a bright red light formed.
Satual shot poison arrows at her, hoping to at least hit her once. Just as one penetrated her chest armor, piercing her skin, she shouted, "Phyre Rilencia!" her arms coming down swiftly.
Ray moved to dodge the barrage of meteors, but was surprised to find that he had not in fact been her target. He heard a howl coming from under the bridge. Satual was being knocked on his back by the flaming rocks behind her. His pet ran away, his fir singed slightly.
'So….she had known he was there all along,' he mused, 'Smart girl.'
Jada fell out of the air, landing on the frozen ground with a sickening thud. Her body was convulsing, her normally milky skin turning a diseased looking greenish yellow. She coughed, and hacked up blood. The poison was working quickly. It might not take long for them to beat her.
Ray saw her cough up blood and panicked. He was supposed to be fighting her, but suddenly he wanted to be her hero. He was worried they had truly hurt her; they had, but in scrimmage it didn't matter. Anyone who died would be resurrected immediately afterward. He started towards her. He was going to make sure she was ok.
Jada was not going to go down like this. How could she have been taken so easily. She had known that Satual was there, but thought she would have spoken her spell before he could get any shots off. Jada understood that this was just a game, but if she didn't try the best she could here, then she would lack when it came to real battle in the field. So, she would win this scrimmage if it killed her.
"Ray! Get away from her!" Aiden yelled; he was running to catch up.
Ray turned to look at him and reprimand him for being so cold.
"Ray! Run! Get back! Get away from her!" Aiden repeated, he could already see she was not down for the count. Ray was being too honorable.
Ray turned to take her hand and comfort her, but her eyes flashed with anger, not just pain. Before he knew what was happening, he was on the run. She was right at his heels. She was slow because of the poison in her system, but persistent.
He could see Aiden running toward him, "I've got her, keep going!"
Aiden pulled back his bow and fired at her. She tried ducking, and slid on the ice, narrowly missing the arrow that flew by her head. He missed her the first time, but nailed her the second time with a crippling shot. The arrow entered her side.
'Her armor protection must almost be gone; that was too easy,' Aiden thought.
In her condition, she faltered once, then kept up her pace, the arrow still in her side..
He pulled back to fire at her again to slow her down some more. He knew she had the heart of a fighter. She had so much will power, she would go till her legs would no longer carry her.
He attached a dust powder bag to his arrow and notched it. He let his arrow go, and it hit her in the shoulder. Upon impact, the bag burst and the choking powder flew into her face. She was blinded, flailing her arms, trying to grasp at something to regain her balance. His arrow had interrupted her spell.
Aiden shook his head; the woman just had the will of a hero. She kept going no matter what. Her body could be dying and she would still try to keep fighting. He had always admired her for that. Even though she could not see, she yelled out her target. He saw her perform a spell and attempted to duck for cover.
"Immolate!" she cried, still teetering.
Her hands were full of flames. She threw the contents of her palms at Aiden. He was set on fire as she ran passed him. He wouldn't be burning long; the spell only lasted about three seconds, but it was all she needed to distract him. He would be in too much pain to follow her immediately.
She had somehow managed to stay on her feet. She looked at her hands, the greenish tint was still present. Looked like the poison was seeping deeper into her system, it was getting to be a darker shade.
While she ran, she pulled Aidan's arrows from her side and shoulder blade, her own blood staining her hand. After a moments pain, she threw the arrows aside and cursed. She would be over it in a second. She had to keep up or Ray would have too much of a lead.
Ray glanced over his shoulder and saw her stagger at his comrades powerful hits. He knew that Satual's poison was still coursing through her blood stream. That was the main reason for her slow pursuit.
He looked ahead and saw the entrance gate. The ice cave was not far beyond that. He could hide in there and wait for her to catch up. How could he have been so soft? He wanted to help her, and she was gonna take action while he tried to comfort her. She took these games very seriously. Well, he would be ready and she would have no idea what hit her.
His pet wolf, one of the better parts of learning ranger skills, was beside him ready to fight when he was. He would have his pet, Akamaru, attack to keep her busy and then take her down in just a few spells.
Jada came around the corner and lost sight of Ray. He was probably hiding out somewhere ready to pounce on her. Well, she was ready for him and his pet. The wolf liked her too much. All she had to do to get around him was start to scratch behind the ears and he was down. She smiled to herself, Ray would be so annoyed by that. She was glad she brought the liver scraps with her; Akamaru would be a piece of cake.
She rounded the corner and stopped. His tracks had vanished, the snow was no longer helping her. In this part of the hall, the snow had been removed, revealing a cobble stone floor. She checked in all directions. The Guild Lord was still up by the main gates. She could see just across the bridge where the merchant was standing, nothing looked out of the ordinary there. The ice cave was a few yards ahead of her. That was probably the best place for him to ambush her. It was up on a hill and she happened to be below that point.
She started toward the cave when Satual jumped out in front of her. She backed up slightly, preparing herself for an attack.
"Hey Amazon!" he said, smiling.
"Satual…." she said quietly, backing up.
"No, no, no, I'm not going to attack you. Just wanted to let you know, Aiden and I are dropping out. We are both officially singed and just wanna watch you kick his butt again. So, don't worry about us anymore."
"Ray is gonna be pissed that you're bailing on him," she managed to say. The poison was really working her system. It was taking its toll on her.
He sighed sympathetically, suddenly sorry for his attack on her, "Yeah, well, it's so much more fun this way. You guys are so entertaining."
She laughed weakly, "Ok, but don't say I didn't warn you."
Satual high-fived her and then ran for the infirmary to bandage his wounds.
Jada continued her pursuit of the necromancer and smiled inwardly.
As expected, Ray's animal jumped out from the cave. It was ready to attack as per its master's orders, when she whistled. It came and she tossed it the liver scraps. It ate them quickly, and then nuzzled her hand for thanks. She cooed for it and pet it lovingly. It rolled onto its back and howled when she rubbed his furry belly.
"How is my cute little man?" she said sweetly, though she was still in pain.
She didn't have much time, the poison would finish her soon and Ray would win without even trying.
Ray watched in astonishment. He smacked his forehead in annoyance.
'Traitor…..' he thought, 'What am I going to do with him?'
He could take her anyhow. It was time. It was now or never. He took a piece of demonic flesh out of his belt pouch and ate it to increase his health and drank demonic blood to up his energy. Then he went at her.
She looked up as he charged her.
His hands went up as he chanted his curse, "Malaise."
His green toxic spell flew out and sucked the life right out of her.
Jada weakened more, but only slightly; it was a slow working spell.
Again, Jada stumbled. Her eyes were fixed on his glowing green eyes. Then he hit her, while she was still in trance, with a rotting flesh curse. While she was unable to heal herself, her life was slowly ebbing away.
The first curse wore off, and she stumbled, realizing where she was. She caught herself before falling to the ground completely. She was so weak.
'His spells are powerful….he is getting good,' she smiled with great pride.
She was about to perform her own magic, when he attacked again.
"Agony!" he said, and touched his forefinger to her damp skin. He could see her losing her energy, and without energy, as an Elementalist, she couldn't compete.
Jada screamed out in pain. Her head felt like it was going to explode, her muscles were on fire.
He was going to win. One more hit should do it.
Jada was on her knees now. She was going to die. He had gotten so good. It was smart of him to wait for her in the shadows. She didn't know where he would end up coming out from, though she had some kind of idea. The ice caves was really, in this hall, the only choice. Sometimes, though, he did surprise her.
She was still in this battle. She was not going to sit here and die without fighting. Reika had taught her better then that.
She gathered all the strength she had left and trained her mind to focus. Just as he was about to throw something else at her, she practically whispered, "Backfire!"
Ray had not been ready for it. He thought she was down and unable to participate in this scrimmage. His spell had ricocheted and soared back at him. It hit him hard and he was knocked on his ass. He would be soar later, the cobble stone ground was painful.
"Thought you had me, did you?" she smirked, weakly, "Spirit Shackles!"
In a split second, ghost like shackles appeared in her hand, and she threw them at him.
"Oh no, not that!" he yelled as the shackles locked around his wrists. As the locks clicked, he dropped his weapon, no longer able to hold it.
She tapped the ground and watched as his energy seeped out of him and into her.
"Ether Feast!" His health was fading, slowly leaking out.
He could feel his energy seeping out of him. She always did this to him. This was how she always beat him. As soon as he was out of energy, he could no longer use his spells. And he did not have much to begin with.
'How does she still have the energy to beat me, I had her. She never gives up.' he thought.
He tried to get something out, anything, anything to slow her down.
'Where in the hell are Aiden and Satual?' he thought angrily, 'Probably having a good laugh at my expense.'
Just as Jada said, " Phyre Solores!"
Ray shouted, "Insidious Parasite!" as soon as her spirit shackles finally faded.
The Fire Storm hit him, but not without hurting her. He smiled gleefully at her reaction. She had not seen that coming. Now every flame that hit him, sucked life from her. She was, in essence, killing herself.
He frowned when he saw she had one of her restoration potions left in her pack. She drank it and he watched as it started giving her her life back.
"You are finished, Ray. Inferno!"
With her fire staff in hand, she conjured the spell that would take him out of the game.
As it hit him, he fell to his knees and collapsed in the snow.
It was over, she had won. She could relax. She let the poison fully take her, and let herself die. Within a few minutes, she was revived.
As she grinned ear to ear, she heard, "Okay you two, that's enough."
Jada smiled, sat up lazily. She stood, then ran over to the opposite resurrection site panting and waited for Ray's body to return to the world of the living. This was the only place where that was possible, in the hall during training, thanks to the ancient gods of Ascalon. Out in the real world however, if one dies, the only way to return is if your guild has a good healer. They and they alone can resurrect you from the dead.
Reika sauntered over to Jada and waited with her for Ray to return.
"How did it go? Is he getting better?" she asked.
"Yes, his fighting skills have improved very much."
Jada saw Aiden and Satual sitting near the storage agent. They were waiting for Ray's return as well. She had a feeling that Ray was not going to be happy with them for bailing on him.
"Welcome back, Ray," Reika said, holding out a hand to help him up.
"Yeah, thanks; I lost again. I will beat her one day. I will," he said, taking her hand.
"When you do, you will have learned all I can teach you," Jada smiled.
"And you two! How could you just leave me there? You were supposed to be helping me!"
Ray stomped over to them and picked them both up by their collars. Their feet were hanging just above the ground.
"Aww come on, Ray. It was so much more entertaining this way," Aiden said, his feet searching for floor. All Satual could do was laugh uncontrollably.
"Aiden, I thought I had taught you better. You never leave a teammate behind."
"Sorry, Reika," he pouted.
Ray dropped them and turned, "So, what's going on, boss?"
"Officer meeting, now. Jada," she turned to her second in command, "Use your fire magic to send out word. I want all officers here immediately."
"As you wish, Reika."
Within a few minutes, Reika could hear her other officers entering the hall. They came down the foyer steps and sat in a half circle around her so they could all see her. Jada returned to her post beside the monk. Ray sat between his two new best friends and waited contently for the meeting to begin.
"Welcome, thank you all for coming on such short notice. We have been given a new assignment. Prince Rurik has asked us to set out in search of Althea, she has been missing for several days. He fears the worst. He has trusted us with this task because of our reputation," Reika began.
"I have also heard from Cynn, that Mhenlo has been talking to Rurik a great deal about us and our triumphs in our dealings with the Charr," Jada added.
The group began to cheer. They were being praised even by Mhenlo, the great hero monk. That in itself, was something.
"Silence!" Jada hushed them. She didn't stand for nonsense during official meetings.
Ray looked at her and smiled. She was so good at her job. She had a certain kind of power even if she was only second in command. She is what kept Reika's guild organized, he knew that.
She smiled back, he was so cute. She wondered what he was thinking half the time, but now was not the moment to be worried about that. There was a mission to carry out. She had work to do.
"Alright, lets go then. We are moving in two teams. Jada, Ray, Satual, you are with me. Aiden, Taz, Vaan, and Kevlar, you are in the other team. We will check the lowlands first, then we will move toward Borlis Pass. Kevlar, I want you and your team to check Serenity Temple first. She was supposed to be there days ago. Lets move."
IN THE FIELD….
"Look out, Reika!" Amazon yelled, tears in her eyes.
Her leader was too busy keeping her team alive that she wasn't watching her own back. There were too many creatures attacking. Ray was busy with a dozen devourers above them on the plateau and Satual was taking out a horde of gargoyles. Jada created a fire storm at both their locations to help them out and then ran for her leader.
"Reika! Get back, Reika!"
"I can handle it, just stay away, Jada. That's an order!"
"No, I won't let you die!"
The stone elementals surrounding her leader were going to obliterate Reika if Jada didn't do something. It was so like her best friend to not ask for help. She always wanted to do everything herself.
A flaming bird swooped down at them and exploded, turning them all to ash. Reika spun around and scowled at her.
"I told you to get back, Amazon!"
"I'm sorry," she sputtered.
"She was only trying to help, Reika, don't yell at her!" Ray shouted from above, having finished off the devourers himself.
"I didn't ask for your opinion!"
'What has gotten into her?' Jada thought to herself.
"So sorry, I thought," he said, jumping down from his position to assist the rest of them, "We were a team."
He scowled at the monk; he didn't like her attitude at all.
"I will deal with you later," She said, glaring at Ray, "Carry on."
They continued their journey north, toward Serenity Temple. That was where Althea was rumored to have been seen last. They moved in silence, no one daring to get Reika's temper up again.
Ray would glance at Jada every few minutes. Reika was watching them, though she was sure neither of them knew. She was very upset. This Ray was ruining her nice order. He was brainwashing Jada a little more every day. The more time the two spent together, the more she started to disobey her. She had had more then enough of that.
Once they reached the temple, just outside of it a collector told them the story of Althea's demise. Inside, he told them, were her ashes. They were being held in the event that someone would come looking for her. Her ashes were to be taken back to Prince Rurik. They got her ashes and started back for the ruins of Ascalon, where Rurik was waiting for them.
* * * * * *
Rurik was devastated. His eyes were full of tears as he took the urn from his loyal guard guild, On the Edge of Reason. He knew that they had tried their best to make it in time, but they had no way of knowing that she would already have been dead.
THE NEXT DAY……
Jada woke slowly, rubbing her eyes in the morning sun. The snow made the light so bright it was blinding her. She put on her armor, ready for another day of training, and walked out of her quarters and into the main hall. She nodded politely at the storage agent, Xulani, and then continued on to the cave, where she would be sure to find her fearless leader. She could just picture Reika mulling over the map of Tyria, deciding on their actions for the day.
Upon entering the cave, she saw and heard the loud angry voices of her friends. She walked closer still and realized they were all yelling at a total stranger.
"Hey! What's going on here? That is enough! Everyone, stand down!" she said, stepping between the man and her fellow guild members.
"Why don't you ask him!" Satual said viciously, pointing angrily at the stranger.
Jada raised a hand at Satual, silently telling him to calm down. She turned to the stranger.
"Hi, I apologize for their behavior. I don't believe we have met. I'm Jada, who are you?" she asked politely, assuming Reika had recruited a new member and forgot to tell someone.
"I'm the new leader of On the Edge of Reason."
"What?!" Jada was taken aback.
"You heard me, I'm in charge now. Unless of course…you want it for yourself, but it's gonna cost you," he smiled.
"Cost us? I don't understand…..where is Reika?"
Ray stood back, having had his say moments earlier and watched in horror as Jada was beginning to put things together.
When she was not answered, she lost her temper and her patience, "Where is Reika?! I demand to know, tell me!"
Her eyes were turning brilliant white and her body glowed fiery red. Her emotions were getting the better of her. Ray wondered what her true power would be like. The Phoenix was alive now and Jada was under control.
"I have no idea," the strange man said, still smirking.
"You will tell me, or I will…" Phoenix began, when she was interrupted.
"You will what? Torch me? I have your precious guild in my hands, you will do nothing. If you want it back, it is all yours, but it will cost you a heavy fee."
"Of course we want it back, but I want to know what you have done with Reika?" the fiery being demanded patiently.
Ray hated seeing her like this. He hated seeing her so upset. He watched as she lost all of her anger. It was turning into sadness. The fiery being remained, but the flames on her dwindled in power. She thought the worst and could not think of what she would do if Reika was dead. Her eyes still glowed brilliantly white. The Phoenix had not yet freed Jada.
"I did nothing to your former leader. She left of her own accord. She welcomed me to the guild, as I was looking for a new place to call home and then put me in charge. She said I could have it. But that if you all wanted it back, that I should charge you a fat fee for it. No questions asked."
"What? How could she? Why would she?" Jada was immersed in grief.
Satual stepped up, grabbing the stranger by the arms, "What exactly are we supposed to pay you for something that was originally ours?"
"Thirty thousand gold pieces."
"That's outrageous," Satual said.
"But we will pay it, of course," Ray said, coming closer finally.
It was time he took things into his own hands. He would not let this wonderful guild he had become fond of fall apart. He would not let Jada down.
"Ray, are you crazy? That is way too much, where are we gonna get that kind of gold?" Satual argued.
"Do you want the guild back or not?"
Satual was about to say something, but upon seeing Jada's dejected face, he thought better of it. Ray would do whatever he had to, to see her smile again, and so would he. She was like a sister to him, and he did not want her to be so upset.
"Reika left us with nothing. She took Aiden and some of the others with her. So, we need the guild back if we are gonna do anything to make it the way it was. How much do you got? Vaan? Satual?"
"About ten thousand, you?" Vaan said.
"I got about ten thousand too," Satual added.
"I can come up with the rest."
Satual and Vaan handed Ray the gold, and he in turn gave it to the invader.
"Thanks, nice doing business with you. Here you go….the deed to the guild hall. See ya," and the stranger disappeared.
Ray turned to look at the Amazon woman that was on her knees behind him.
Ray picked her up by her arms, much to his own discomfort. He would deal with the burning, "Listen up, Phoenix! I'm getting tired of your interference. We have no need for you! I want Jada back! Right now!"
After a moment, the flames disappeared, and the baby blue returned to her eyes.
"Jada, I am willing to put this guild back together, but I need you. I will make it bigger and better then Reika ever could have made it. Are you with me?"
Jada stared up at him, wiping the tears from her eyes, "Sure, I can help. I don't know how much I can do for you, but I'll try."
She stood on her own and tried not to look so sad. Ray smiled at her, "No, Amazon, I want you to be by my side. You are my officer. I want you with me. Do you understand?"
Jada stared at him, and did understand. He loved her. He was doing this for her, not just himself.
"Yes, I understand. I will be by your side, always. I promise," she said.
And Jada always kept her promises.
"I'm with you too, Ray. I won't leave either. I'm here to stay, whatever you need, I'm your man." Satual agreed, Vaan stepping in too.
"Good, then let's get started. We have a lot of work to do."