Ragazza Volpe Magica
~A fox by any other name isn't as rhythmical~
Shouri is a nineteen year old in a small sleepy town just living his life as quietly as possible. That would all change when a girl with no memories fell into his life. The amnesia wasn't the strange part, however. Bearing fox ears and matching tail, Blakki now only has Shouri to rely on while they try to figure out who and what Blakki is. Navigating this situation will be tricky, but more so when magic and Italian are involved.
A red and yellow eye glowed in the darkness of the early morning. Reaching down, a sword was drawn from the side. The blade began to glow red hot, but did not warp or melt from the extreme heat emanating from the metal. After a moment, the blade caught fire, bringing light to the room.
The blade morphed between a short sword to a rapier to a large claymore. Effortlessly the blade shifted between its three forms.
Slashing, Piercing, Crushing forms, it was so easy to manipulate.
“IL OTTAVO ELEMENTAO, ULTRISSIMO!!”
The form of the orange clad fire knight glowed and split apart, with Colette catching their tuner mid-air. The maestro remained stationary, the backlight of her red tuner remaining lit for a small period before turning off the screen to save power.
“There's six of us and one of him Colette.” Rebecca spoke up.
“It wasn't enough for Artemis and Isaac.” Colette lowered her arm, gripping the device in her hand as tight as she could muster.
Rebecca could feel it - the fear her maestro felt. The despair in her lover's heart. The anxiety in her soul. Stepping forward, the vixen pushed her dear friend's chin up and pressed her lips against Colette's. Slowly pulling away but not too far, Rebecca whispered: “I believe in you Colette. The woman strong enough to talk back to Armando of the Noble swords.”
Those words brought a calm to the turmoil in the maestro's mind, if only for a moment.
A smile rose up on Rebecca's lips. She took hold of her maestro's hand “Come now love! It's not our day to die!”
Declaring victory was easy enough, it didn’t help ease their stomachs which were in knots from worry. “Urgh, we gotta eat something.” Rebecca rummaged around Sonia's small kitchen. Nothing looked appetizing. Colette sat at the small table nearby her head resting on her folded arms. Not only had they worn themselves out the day prior, but they also took some sleeping pills to try and get some rest.
The strategy worked, but shaking off the effects of the medication was a tall order especially in their current mental state. The maestro would slowly raise her head as she heard the soft thumps of the other occupants of the house descend.
Rebecca raised a brow, joining Colette at the table. She thought she had heard both Vinci and Sonia. Sure enough, both of the other pair were there, rubbing their eyes of sleep. Something seemed off to the fire resonator, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. “What's for breakfast?” They asked.
“Dunno, nothing sounds good.” Rebecca grumbled.
“‘kayyyy.” And with that, the two moved into the kitchen.
Ten minutes later hot, fresh breakfast was sitting on plates for everyone. It was just eggs, sausage, and toast, but it was something. Slowly, the four began working on their respective plates of food. Eating was hard, but it had to be done. “We were meeting Shouri and Blakki at Sahji's right?” Colette asked.
“Yeah.” Sonia and Vinci replied with a nod. “Let's get ready.”
Rebecca and Colette would watch the Null-element pair get up, gather the dishes and place them in the sink before going back upstairs to get ready. “There's something weird about them this morning.” Colette commented on. “Maybe they're so tired they're just synch’d from etude?” Rebecca offered.
“No, that can't be it...” The maestro trailed off. “Perhaps they're close to reaching à deux?” She hypothesized. “Maybe. Shouri and Blakki did that creepy twin thing a bunch before and after getting à deux.” Rebecca recalled.
Colette leaned her head back. “To use is to know.” She wearily let out. “They've been watching four other people doing it for weeks now, we've practically been shoving it in their faces.” Closing her eyes, she hummed in thought. “I dunno.” The fire maestro decided.
Getting ready was simple, they were presumably going into battle today, wearing their normal attire was all that was really required of them.
Gathering at the front door of the shop, Sonia made sure to put up a closed sign. She locked the door and let out a heavy sigh, allowing her hand to rest on the front door to her precious shop. Vinci placed a hand on her back and patted it a couple times in re-assurance. “Okay. Let's go.”
Rebecca and Colette exchanged glances before deciding to follow the other pair.
The trip to Sahji's wouldn't take too terribly long, less than a fifteen-minute walk away. Upon entering the establishment it was already bustling even at this early hour. Shouri and Blakki, naturally were already there. They were talking to Rose who was looking over their tuner.
Blaze, Flash, and Shine were all in a little huddle of their own, apparently comparing notes about Shine's adventures over the last couple of days.
Finally, was the store owner Sahji, speaking with Cheryth and a newcomer: a man dressed in dark blue with orange highlights, the hair atop his head being fluffy and whitish-gray, like clouds. Colette studied this man for several moments before coming to a realization. “Is that the Sky Sage Cielto?!” She blurted out. Naturally such a loud declaration earned the attention of the entire shop’s worth of people.
“Yes Colette, that is he.” Shouri struggled to suppress a chuckle at Colette's now embarrassment. Colette blushed hard trying to appear smaller than she was, with Rebecca catching her maestro's feelings from their recent à deux and similarly feeling the sting of social judgement.
Cielto himself decided to walk over to the fire maestro and her resonator. “You're the third pair to complete à deux, right?” He asked.
“Y-yes sir.” Colette kept her head down, not wanting to look the literal sky god in the face.
“Interesting.” He hummed. “You're special in your own right.”
“Eh?” Colette and Rebecca raised their heads.
“You're the first Riterrans to pull it off.” The ethereal looked between the two. “Seeing you now, I'm reaffirmed in my thought that the Noble Swords are wrong.” He decided at that moment.
Colette was confused, was it really that special? “But why?” She had to know.
The sky sage smiled knowingly. “It’s because of who you are. There's nothing special about you. You're simply average.” He stated his thoughts openly, which immediately deflated the fire pair.
“Ah I mean that in only the kindest way.” Cielto paused to consider his word choice. “You were able to achieve such a power while being just normal people. You have the unique ability to inspire others through your ordinarity.” Colette and Rebecca seemed unconvinced. “That is to say, your hearts are closer to the average person on Riterra. You understand them. Your comrades do not, they are from this planet, this earth.”
The fire pair was still baffled by what the sage was saying, but they wouldn't be allowed time to think about it as the meeting was being called to attention.
“Alright team, let's get this started!” Cheryth declared.
Attention was turned over to the UN Agent. “First off: Orchestra members, is it ready?” She looked to the trio of small ethereals. Shine stepped forward. “Yes, the link to Earth's moon is active, we can open the portal at any time.”
“They really are a teleportation cheat.” Shouri whispered to Blakki, who shot him a bemused look.
Cheryth nodded. “Good, that's at least one step out of the way. Cielto, talking with Colette and Rebecca-”
“I will lend my full support Cherry.” The sage chuckled, he held out a hand and an ornate blue lance adorned with feathers and wings appeared in his hand.
“That looks different than the Heaven's Pierce in the books.” Colette noted. “The better understanding humans have over the air and sky, the stronger my muse gets.” He informed the two as an aside.
“So fill us non-Riterrans in, what's going on?” Shouri spoke up.
Cielto turned to said non-Riterrans and spoke: “My Heaven's Pierce will grant authority over atmosphere, or in layman's terms, you'll be able to breathe in space.”
Once more the DIDA agent gave an affirmative nod. “He'll be able to keep gravity, air, and a general atmosphere on the moon for the duration of the fight.” Cheryth re-stated. “Naturally such a task is draining to an ethereal, and should we abort the mission half way through, Armando will seize the final instrument and with it our instruments as well.”
“No pressure.” Shouri rolled his eyes. Blakki elbowed him. “Componiti!” She giggled.
“Is everyone ready?”
“Yes!” Came from the trio of Orchestra members.
“Ready.” Cielto nodded.
“Ain't getting any younger.” Shouri shrugged. “He means yes.” Blakki shook her head.
“Ready as we'll ever be.” Sonia exhaled.
Last was Colette and Rebecca.
Maestro looked to Resonator, who returned the look in kind. “Are we?” Colette asked. “Why are you asking me? You already know what I'm thinking.” Rebecca chuckled.
This was it, the final battle. “Wait!” Sahji finally spoke up.
Everyone held in place. The wish sage took in a deep breath and exhaled. “First, I would recommend our current power couples go ahead and initiate à deux. It will make the trip a bit easier.” He declared. “Secondly, and this is very important. Any usage of portals without the full seven being under one owner is very treacherous. Instability in local space time can happen. That being said, if you end back up on Riterra or any other Rhythm-using planet, I highly recommend against using à deux lest you unleash pandora's box on that world.”
The shop went completely silent. “They're not ready for this kind of power to be common knowledge.” He warned.
With that the sage clapped twice. “That's all I have to say! Safe travels!”
Shouri shot the sage a wary gaze. There was definitely a double meaning intended by that little speech of his, but he didn't really have time to attempt fighting the embodiment of hope and desire at the present moment. Resigning to his own fate he held out his tuner for Blakki who took ahold of it.
Similarly Colette and Rebecca also held their own tuner in-between their hands.
“Shouri et Blakki, à deux!”
“Colette et Rebecca, à deux!”
Blue and yellow eyes met red and yellow. “You ready?” Shouri and Blakki asked. “As ready as we're gonna get.” Colette and Rebecca replied.
With that, the three Orchestra members prepared their part: Blaze held out her hands, Shine and Flash each took one of her hands, and with their own remaining hands took hold of each other, forming a small circle. The trio closed their eyes and a small black blob appeared in the middle of them
“Link established with Sea, Forest, and Crystal. Meta location: Earth's moon.” Flash whispered.
“Bridge with Shade established at coordinates 0.67° North 23.47° East, in the Mare Tranquillitatis region.” Blaze muttered.
“Final location set: the Sea of Tranquility - Statio Tranquillitatis.” Shine spoke, in a trance like the other two.
The black blob began to expand, becoming tall, flat circle, it swirled like a galaxy before finally “gaining” a picture, showing what appeared to be a white, rocky surface.
Shine opened her eyes, being the first to release her companion's hands. “We're all set! We've made contact with the Tranquility Base!” She declared to the group.
The mortals in the shop were all dumbfounded at how easy that was. There was a notable pull towards the portal as air was slowly being sucked into the portal. “I suppose I should be the first to go.” Cielto brandished his lance before stepping towards the portal. He easily cleared it, walking through it like a door. There was no magical absorption of the sage, it appeared as if the moon itself was just another room in Sahji's enigmatic shop.
After the sky sage stepped through, the rest of the group noticed the pressure that the portal had been exerting on the rest of the room. “We have atmosphere, come on in!” Cielto waved the combatants in.
“God I wish I was a rabbit right now.” Colette and Rebecca gulped.
“Why's that?” Shouri asked.
“The trait that Rabbits possess is called “Tail of the Lunar Sea”, they're unaffected by gravity or the inability to breathe.” Colette explained.
“So Althea could...” Shouri shook his head, focusing on the task at hand. “Let's go.”
Sonia and Vinci stepped through first, followed by the fused form of Rebecca and Colette. Before Shouri and Blakki could make their way through, Shine jumped up and hugged Blakki and Shouri, holding them tightly. “I-I wish you didn't have to go.” Shine wrapped her wings and tail around them. “Chiara...” They returned her hug.
She unfurled her wings and remained floating as she held their shoulders. Shaking away the building tears, she put on a confident smile. “Give that dullard sword hell! Show him what a real maestro can do!” Shouri and Blakki would return her smile with one of their own. “You bet!”
Finally stepping through the portal they found themselves on the surface of the moon, turning their head they saw the earth in the distance along with the sun, but it felt as if they were on earth. It was easy to breathe, the temperature was pleasant, and they didn't feel weightless like those who had walked on this surface previously had experienced. Cielto was taking in the sights himself, but the big difference with the sage was his lance was glowing brilliantly.
“You're finally here.”
They had expected the Noble Sword Armando, but the voice greeting them was a small child, like the rest of the orchestra. Rabbit ears adorned the head of this Orchestra member, and given there was only one left this was the-
“Shade Guitar?” Colette asked
“Yes, I am the Shade Guitar. Welcome to Earth's moon.” They bowed. “Unlike Riterra's Luna, this rock floats harmlessly in space, quietly awaiting it's subjugation by the planet it orbits. It's quiet, lonely, peaceful.” The ethereal hopped down from the rock they were sitting on. “Though, simply by opening the portal to this desolate rock, you've started the final encounter.”
At that moment, a portal opened a small distance away. The group of six turned their attention to the new portal. Stepping out was the lion-man of the hour - Armando. “In the span of a week you've recovered, it felt like mere seconds have passed for I.” Armando bowed to the group. “Sage Cielto, what a pleasant surprise.” The lion ethereal noted the other ethereal's presence.
“Likewise Noble Sword Armando.” Cielto nodded. His brows descended to a glare. “My presence is that of a simple observer. But make no mistake, I wish to avoid the blood you wish to spill on Sage Lanvi's green land.”
Armando couldn't help but chuckle at that declaration. “Sage Kitori is very interested in my proposal; I wouldn't want to let down his expectations of our grand design.”
Cielto maintained his glare. “The dead should not interfere with the will of the living, Noble Sword Armando.” The lion's smirk faded. “We shall see if the living are worth possessing such a task.” Armando growled at Cielto.
“I wasn't aware ethereals could disagree like this.” Sonia muttered; a bit nervous being in between the two hostile immortals.
“Rose told us something to that effect back home.” Colette whispered to the seamstress. “Apparently they talk frequently and there's some kind of seniority thing with ethereals.” Rebecca added, taking over their voice for a moment.
“Sounds complicated.” Vinci noted.
Shade sighed, walking between the two groups. “Now that we're all here, I suppose it's time to begin.” They looked to Armando, then swiveled to looking to Shouri's group. “I wish you luck, child of Lumidela.” Colette perked up at that name, before snapping her head over to see a confused looking Shouri.
With that the rabbit ethereal turned into a small guitar floating in the air just over the site that would shortly become a battlefield.
Armando drew his blade, leveling it towards the group. “I am the Noble Sword Armando, I seek the freedom of Resonator-kind; En garde!”
With that declaration, the battle began, with the ethereal closing the distance between the group in an instant. Shouri/Blakki hopped away, using their telekinetically controlled beads to gain some height to escape from the rapid charge. The predator wouldn't allow his prey to escape however, with a swing of his sword he loosed three beams of light. Colette and Rebecca, having their sword already drawn were the only ones to successfully block the sudden attack.
“Motherfucker!” Shouri could be heard shouting as the super effective attack sliced straight through him and Blakki's fused form. Vinci meanwhile dove in front of the attack aimed straight at Sonia's head.
Colette and Rebecca immediately locked blades with the ethereal.
“Young maidens who share your blade, surely you don't dishonor me by wearing a knights tabard in my presence!” He shouted. “Get off yer high horse you pretentious prick!” Rebecca growled. Their own sword began to change shape, becoming a much larger great sword. “Fool!”
A swipe of a rapier easily sliced through Colette and Rebecca's defenses. “AUGH!” Rebecca/Colette flew backwards, landing hard on the lunar surface and skidding a fair distance away, dropping their own sword in the process. Armando kept up his pace, charging and jumping, aiming to pierce their heart with a single stab of the weapon.
“Luce Lunare, Fortissimo!”
Armando's eyes opened wide as Shouri/Blakki appeared between him and his target. Rather than the tip of his rapier meeting the fire knight, he was instead met with his own elemental weakness, which launched him away from his target.
“La Bella Vita, Adagio Tutti!” Shouri/Blakki's beads separated off of their form, fifty-four of them circling around Colette and Rebecca's rapier inflicted wound, while the other fifty-four went to tend to Vinci.
“Motherfucker brought Artemis’ sword with him...” Rebecca groaned sitting up. Holding a hand out, her sword returned to her hand from the distance it had slid from its owner. “Yeah, I didn't expect him to do that either.” Colette shook their head. “I have to assume he also has Isaac's sword on him too.”
Sure enough, they spotted it as Armando was getting up, the large great sword of the crushing ethereal adorned his back. In one hand he held his own sword, and in the other was the weapon of the piercing ethereal, Artemis.
“It's like we're fighting all three of them at once.” Blakki noted.
“It was said that Armando not only created the slashing style of magic, but was also proficient in crushing and piercing.” Colette explained hastily. “Guess it was literal and not just fucking poetry.” Rebecca spat off to the side. “It's a good thing we have a magical shifting sword.” The resonator half of the fusion grumbled.
Armando shook off the shock of Shouri and Blakki's sudden appearance. They were much faster than they appeared and wielded his elemental weakness; he'd have to deal with them first in order to have a proper fight with Colette and Rebecca. A swipe of the sword summoned a tornado which quickly picked up a significant amount of moon dust along with it. “Don't breathe that in!” Shouri warned, immediately bolting away from the cyclone. “R-right!” Colette shouted back, igniting their flaming rollerblades and rushing away.
The tornado followed Colette and Rebecca, to keep them distracted for a moment. Armando swung his sword again, this time casting a spell on himself. He charged at Shouri/Blakki who had just realized the tornado wasn't chasing them. “He's fast!” Shouri and Blakki managed to get out before they sampled the edge of Armando's blade. “GGAAH!” They cried out as their blood tainted the pristine lunar surface. The blow of the attack sent them to the ground, sliding a bit away. Armando was no slouch and pursued his quarry.
“Funghi Magici, Legato!” Armando halted his advance as incandescent mushrooms sprouted up all around the fallen Lunar-fusion. Analyzing his situation in mere milliseconds, he blew away the mushrooms in an instant. “Armalcol Fucile, Legato Rubato!”
Before he could react, the Solar ethereal was pierced in the left shoulder, his primary sword arm. “GGCK!” The ethereal jumped away from three other rock bullets fired at his legs and right arm.
The first rock bullet was way stronger than it should have been. “Ah, they must have absorbed some of the damage using the Lunar-Solar Ossia.” He muttered to himself, still continuing to analyze the ever-shifting tide of the battle.
Blakki and Shouri's fox ears twitched. “Tch, he figured us out.” Blakki clicked their teeth as they made some more distance between themselves and the ethereal. “The Lunar version of the ossia lets us steal rhythm from attacks we take and add it to our next spell. Now he's gonna be careful about showering us in rhythm.” Shouri muttered to his fused partner. They had rapidly cast the spell under their breath during the brief moment of hesitation Armando had when they threw up the Funghi Magici, expecting him to use magic to get rid of the spell. They had hoped for a more decisive blow, but only really got a dampening of his physical attack power.
“Sotto! La Bella Vita, Lento! Passo Silenzioso, Rubato!” They decided as their next spells. Shouri was under the assumption that Armando was skilled in wielding a blade with either arm.
A prediction that would turn out to be correct as he rushed back into the fray, blade now firmly in his right hand. He wouldn't give them an ounce of breathing room. All they were able to do was spot dodge the practical flurry of blades brought their way. Trying to cast another spell was impossible, which is what Armando was attempting to do. Ever the vigilant he noticed a subtle change in the fusion - the yellow eye had turned into a second blue one. He abruptly stopped, instead pivoting around and kicking them in the stomach. “GUH!” Blakki exhaled their entire lung's worth of air and were sent flying. Slicing down with his sword a sudden downburst of wind flattened them to the ground.
Then with a second slash of his sword he summoned another tornado to keep Shouri and Blakki busy. Armando mused on what had happened as he turned his attention back to Colette and Rebecca who had just dealt with the initial tornado spell. “So they can give up shared control, that must allow the other to better analyze the situation.” He muttered under his breath. Either way he would not be bested by such a trick.
The fire knight that was Rebecca and Colette was just catching their breath from having dealt with the moon tornado they just had to outrun. Their fox ears twitched, alerting them to the charging ethereal. “Son of a-”
“-BITCH!” Rebecca cursed, having parried Armando's sword in just the nick of time.
CLANG CLANG CLANG
The two fighters exchanged blows, neither allowing the other an opening. “FUCK-” Armando's eyes narrowed, hopping back. "-OFF!" Rebecca surrounded herself in a ring of fire. “Interesting use of Anello di Fuoco.” Armando grinned toothily. A simple swipe down of his sword crushed Rebecca and Colette's fused form, and extinguished the fire surrounding them. Propelling himself up in the air, he dropped down with Isaac's massive great sword in hand to crush the fire knight.
The massive blade his its mark, throwing up rock and lunar dust. Armando immediately jumped away, leaving his comrade's blade behind. He re-drew his own sword just in time to parry a lunge of Rebecca/Colette's rapier. The ethereal watched in awe as the fire knight drew the rapier back and swung it forward, the blade seeming to catch fire and change shape mid-swing to become a crushing great sword. He'd use his injured left arm to pull out Artemis' rapier, to block the crushing blade, but was once again shocked to find by the time he had moved the rapier to block, the opposing sword had shifted a second time to become his own attribute: a slashing short sword.
“GAAH!” The ethereal retreated, having taken a slash across the chest.
The lion-man inhaled and exhaled sharply, each haggard breath showing just how far they had pushed him. The wounds across his chest and left shoulder darkening his clothing.
“It seems that even ethereals bleed.” Colette muttered, trying to catch her own breath.
Shouri/Blakki ran up beside Colette/Rebecca. “La Bella Vita, Adagio Tutti.” The beads flew from their form and surrounded Rebecca and Colette, healing them from the damage they took.
Armando nodded. “Ah, it's only fair.” With a snap of his fingers, his body began to shimmer in the pure sunlight that the lunar surface basked in. “What the-?” Blakki's gasp was cut off by Shouri taking control of their voice. “He's healing!”
Sure enough, the blood that had stained the ethereal's clothes began to vanish, and after a moment, he rotated his previously damaged left shoulder. “Much better.” The solar ethereal chuckled.
“He's not a healing attribute... How?” Rebecca asked.
“Maybe there's a Solar ossia that heals?” Colette questioned. “Damn! I wish I knew more about them!”
Once more the ethereal drew his blade. “Where were we?” His smirk seemed all the more intimidating in the face of the fact that he was able to heal himself. Both Shouri and Colette gritted their teeth, grinding their feet into the lunar soil. Even without rhythm, he was an amazing swordfighter. It was taking every trick in their collective books to even hurt him, and now they had to contest with their damage being healed off too?