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A brisk breeze whistled its way down through the mountain passes, rustling the scrub brush and occasional tree as it made its way westward. It passed down through a gorge and over a small cliff, briefly ruffling the hair of six of the most oddly matched individuals one was likely to see. It was not uncommon for travelers to take this road, and it was far less uncommon for them to be strange. One of their number hushed the rest, approaching the cliff.

Cherise crouched low to the ground, peering up over the ledge at the path ahead before turning to the assembled ragtag team of misfits that she'd managed to recruit for this mission. They seemed competent, at least, although the soldier and old man were a bit suspect. Still, having muscle in the mountains would be invaluable, and they were built like a pair of grizzly bears, so the smuggler wasn't too worried about them once they got into a fight; she couldn't say the same about the pretty mage boy, but appearances were always deceiving when it came to magic-users. Cherise had been even more suspicious of the wyvern rider girl, but she was ex-military, and very obviously knew how to handle herself in a fight, so there wasn't too much danger there. Besides, wyverns were natural mountain creatures, able to fly over the few crags that they couldn't scale, and air support in these particular mountains would prove invaluable. The spellthief was... odd, to say the least, but after six months of escorting all manner of unsavory individuals, the smuggler was used to keeping a sharp eye on her personal belongings- especially now that their pay was dependent on that skill.

Speaking of which. Cherise stepped from the ledge and cracked her knuckles, touching her pack to make sure the locked strongbox that held their charge was still intact. Satisfied that it hadn't moved, she spoke up to the rest of them.

"Alright, it looks like the road ahead is clear, for now. Barring any landslides, flash floods, bandits, or other fun party games, we should be up and over that little bump there and out of sight of Ostia by nightfall, something that would help me sleep easier if I knew what sleeping easy felt like. Let's saddle up and move out! Gwen, I want you pulling up the rear. If something seems out of place, get off the ground. Panika, scout ahead of us, shoot back a Fire flare if you spy any bandit patrols or anything like that. Bor, Bear, stick with me. I'm a growing woman, and I have urges, like the urge to not die immediately. Ray..."

Cherise paused thoughtfully for a moment, then nodded to herself. "Ray, keep yourself between Panika and us. If she starts shooting sparks at you, get up there with her to give us a bit of a head start on blowing whatever it is to smithereens. Let's go."

The mercenary tightened the straps of the pack on her hip and the scabbard on her back, then started up the cliff and down the mountain road to Bern.
Ray was surprised he was up in the mountains again. And unexpected destination, but it was sort of comforting to feel atmosphere similar to home. The breeze was soothing. The somewhat chilly air, albeit a little warm for him, was a pleasant refresher to help him think straight.

He pondered why he took this job. He hated working with a team unless he was the group leader. Over his life he had developed a huge complex about being subservient to someone else, mostly thanks to his sister. Perhaps it was because it paid so well for such a simple mission. For that reason, Ray just kept this to himself. Some financial security never hurt, after all. Ray was naturally suspicious about this amount of payment for such a simple job, but he figured that was just how crime organizations operated down south. Since being found meant certain death anyway, there was no reason to be scared of using magic to blast his opponents into big baby chunks. And at the very least, they'd be in Bern at its conclusion. It would be much easier to travel through that country and go to Pherae from behind than it would be to go in the front.

What was really unnerving about the orders is that they were being given by a woman. Ray had a complex about that too. While Kalin was the worst offender, her other female friends like to poke fun at him as well. All of the bullying made him wish he could do the same back to them, but because of how weak and frail he was, he couldn't do much. But now with his magical knowledge, he could light them on fire and see them run around screaming in pain. And if he had a darkness tome he could also give them nightmares. That would teach them. Fortunately for Ray, he was smart and willful enough to contain his sadistic streak.

The other scenario was, after all, having a male leader. Ray didn't like interacting with men because of his looks, so a woman was the lesser of two evils. Of course, there were men who didn't think with the lower half of their bodies, but there was a size-able percentage that did, and it made for some rather... annoying scenarios. He couldn’t afford to take a chance.

In any case, the desire to set someone on fire was always an omnipresent entity.

His partners, presumably, could tell he was a mage. The leader certainly could. He had, however, kept the information about his Meteor tome to himself. One never knows when they'll be robbed blind for a rare tome. Same for his cloak, but despite its looks it was tightly wrapped. Not even the magical assassin or thief or whoever she was could rip it off. It looked like a normal cloak anyway, so until some elder magic bullshit failed to blast him to smithereens no one could tell it was any different than a normal cloak.

"Oi, are you going tell us what to expect? That seems like too important of a detail to gloss over. Sure, the woman over there and myself combined could simply set everything on fire, but you would be greatly surprised at how ineffective complete and total annihilation is these days.”
More mountains. It's always gotta be mountains. Ah well. Panika mused to herself as she felt the breeze rush across her. She draped her cloak around her a little tighter than usual, concealing Lemegeton. So why am I here again? Oh, right. Money. Panika had to constantly remind herself she was here in the name of cold, hard, coins. She had far more important things on her mind, like Cinia's safety. She knew that she wouldn't be getting very far on her own without money, so she had really no choice but to once again sell her talents. She pondered a little on this motley crew that the so-called leader had managed to assemble. One of them was a mage who looked incredibly effeminate, but Panika had figured out that she was really a he, though she may have made herself look a bit creepy in the process (hint: it involved a lot of creepy staring).

At some point, the leader - Cherise - had decided to issue some orders. Panika was used to taking orders from leaders, so she didn't really complain. As long as she got her money, she really didn't care if she had to be bossed around or not, and it was said that the pay was nothing short of absurd. Her particular charge was to go ahead and scout, that kind of really boring thing she was already used to doing in more dangerous territory. Before she kept going, the fellow mage had asked if there was anything to expect from here on out. "Oi vey... Don't worry about it. I've got it under control. If I see anything unsavory, you got my word I'll let y'all know about it." Panika nodded confidently as she rushed ahead, somehow maneuvering on the terrain with strange care and quickness.

She kept going, and looked ahead, at this point, only the most eagle-eyed of people would still be able to see her with how far ahead she was. She was continuing to survey the area, but so far, it seemed that there wasn't anything too strange. In fact, it almost made Panika suspicious. She stood in place for a moment, looking a bit befuddled. Huh. This is looking to be too easy. Is there anything around here? Anything waiting for us here? I can't quite tell.
Gwen, who had been leaning against the scaly red bulk of her dozing wyvern, got up with a leisurely stretch. "Sure thing, you're the boss she said, moving to collect her spear from where it rested on the ground as if she had all the time in the world.

Technically, as she was by far the fastest out of the group while on wyvern back, and she was to bring up the rear, she very much did have all the time in the world.

"Up and at-em, girl," Gwen said, patting Freyja firmly on the side. The wyvern, as if in imitation of her rider, stretched sinuously as she stirred from what had appeared to be a very relaxing nap. She made small grumbling sounds from deep inside her reptilian throat, but soon settled back down to allow Gwen to clamber up onto her back and into her saddle.

Apparently, though, some members of the group wanted to keep standing around and talking about it. "This is the Taliver Mountains, kid," she said, leaning down to look at him from atop Freyja, hands busy adjusting her saddle's leg straps. "You expect trouble. Probably bandits -- the Lycians don't usually bother patrolling out this far. But your flashy magic isn't going to be enough to save you if you're more interested in complaining than in paying attention to the job at hand."

She drew the last strap tight with a strong, definitive motion. Rather than staying to give Ray a chance to respond, she gave Freyja's sides a sharp kick, sending the wyvern airborn in a flurry of leathery wings and kicked up dirt.

Gwen never had been good at making friends.
Ahh... feels good to breathe in that fresh mountain air again.

This and similar thoughts soothed Barry's mind as he marched with the motley crew of smugglers through the Taliver Mountains. Sure, he knew about the bristling bandit activity. And yeah, he was probably not among the best of fighters - why else would a random group of strangers offer so much money for the assistance of a man like himself? - but there was no good that came of pensiveness. Right now, he attempted to make the most of his first trip into the mainland in quite some time.

"Alright, it looks like the road ahead is clear, for now." Barry picked his head up at the sound of Cherise's voice just ahead of him. "Barring any landslides, flash floods, bandits, or other fun party games, we should be up and over that little bump there and out of sight of Ostia by nightfall, something that would help me sleep easier if I knew what sleeping easy felt like."

Barry said nothing. She liked to talk, so he had learned to tune out the unimportant bits of her speech and focus only on the parts that concerned him or their objective.

"Bor, Bear, stick with me. I'm a growing woman, and I have urges, like the urge to not die immediately."

Barry gave a hearty laugh and clapped his hands together. "O'course, lass! No one'll cut yer purse with a bear in tow."

She didn't appear to be listening to him; she was too busy giving orders to everyone else. Must really be worried about that there loot, Barry thought. He had no idea what it was, but with the amount of gold he was promised for seeing it safely to Bern, the only think stuck on his mind was the things he would spend it on when he got back to Badon. Things like ale. And steak and eggs. And maybe some company, too...

The sound of a wyvern swooping past them jogged Barry's mind back to reality. He involuntarily cracked his knuckles and re-strapped his armguards to make sure they were tight. Small talk persisted amongst the crew as they continued along the mountain trail.

He turned to the man walking next to him, a young, long-haired fellow named Bor. He was just as tall as Barry, which was impressive in itself. Made Barry wonder why they needed him when they already had this guy around. Bor had been notably quiet for most of the trip thus far. Barry figured there was no harm in striking up a conversation. At least it would make the walk less dull.

"How'd you fall in with this crew, anyway? A man like you'd make a good living down 'round the open sea. They're always fancyin' a big sword arm."
Bor had been quietly listening to the exchanges around him when "Bear" spoke to him.

"Hm?" he said, taking his eyes off Cherise's swaying hips and looking at the man next to him.

He'd taken the time throughout their short trek to survey his new companions, and his impressions were varied. Three women and two men besides himself, each a with their own colorful personality. It was enough to make a man wonder at the world, that each corner could produce so different a breed of people.

He shook his head, realizing that the man had asked him a question.

Why was he with them? Because he was promised a fortune, and his wanderlust had taken hold of his feet again. Not to mention...

"Beer here tastes like piss," he said, tersely, "And I'm getting paid to go somewhere else. If there's a fight, then even better"
Cherise just rolled her eyes at Ray's comment and stuck her thumb over her shoulder toward Gwen. "What the flier said. Bandits are all over these mountains, though we shouldn't be expecting them in any real force until we're closer to Thria or Tuscana," she explained. Besides, if they made good enough time and slipped past Thria before nightfall, they could probably avoid most of the patrols. The brigands in that area were still a bit skittish being so close to Ostia. Tuscana, on the other hand... those mountains would be crawling with idiots. Cherise brushed a hand across her pack reassuringly, then jerked her head to signal everyone to start moving out.

Looking down the road, she spotted a small speck of movement, though the cape meant that it was most likely Panika going on ahead. Damn, that girl was fast; pretty impressive, and a little bit concerning if she couldn't keep her hands to herself. Regardless, as the ragtag band marched on, the trip began to look more and more peaceful. Maybe this might work out after all, Cherise thought to herself. She even allowed herself a small smile at the two large men who had seemingly started up a conversation.

Unbeknownst to them, however, they wouldn't have to worry about the bandits. A few miles ahead of them, a pair of stone-faced men in armor hurled the last of quite a few bodies over the side of a cliff before returning to a nearby cave, where a woman in voluminous red robes sat comfortably in a chair beside a crackling fire.

"Inspector, the bodies have been disposed of. Should we move to intercept the smugglers?"

The Inspector gave the two soldiers an arch look, tossing her blonde hair with a small grin. "Gentlemen, please. I have no intention of engaging these heathens out in the open, and especially where they can see us coming. As the Pure Text says, 'Victory cometh surely to the righteous, and swiftly to the ruthless.' We will wait here until they pass, and then..." Her grin widened, a slightly manic glint entering her eyes. "We will do the good works of the Church!"
Ray was kind of miffed he couldn't give a rebuttal to the wyvern knight and mage that ran ahead, but whatever, that's not why he was here.

"Well, that's just it. Even if this isn't the most populous part of the mountain range, it's still awfully quiet. That means they're waiting in ambush to kill us. That's certainly what it meant back at home."

Most would think he was talking about bandits when mentioning back home. Unbeknownst to them, he was actually thinking back to the times when Kalin would hide in the shadows in their house and pounce on him.
Panika coughed into her cloak, using it to cover her mouth so the sounds she made wouldn't be easily heard. She continued surveying the area, slowing down her movements a lot as she realized that the area she wandered into was unusually empty. Almost as if... There would be people here, but there weren't. Panika profusely turned her head left and right, and soon turned ahead and continued her way forth. She wasn't seeing any unsavory figures yet, but in the distance, she thought she saw something strange. Silently, Panika kept moving on forward through the pass, keeping a watchful eye ahead.

Is that... struggling? Panika scratched her head as she wandered forth some more, unsure of what she was seeing, but still, she had to confirm her suspicions. The way Panika thought, though, was that if there weren't any strange things that would assault them here, the assault would come further on in the escort, and Panika had to bring that to everybody's attention as soon as possible. It just required the young lady to confirm it first. By St. Elimine, the things I 'ave to do for money! Panika uttered to herself as she continued on ahead.
As per the instructions, Gwen stopped Freyja from rising too high, not wanting to get out of shouting distance from the ground. So she and Freyja settled into a low altitude flight pattern, going in circles to prevent herself from completely overtaking the rest of the party.

It seemed as though she might have been a more practical choice for forward scout, maybe taking one of the mages along for signal purposes, but she had to assume the woman in charge knew her business; she was some kind of refugee guide through these mountains, after all. Maybe there was some kind of trouble that the shifty mage woman could pick up on foot that Gwen would have missed from the air -- she was the first to admit that magic was not her area of expertise.

As they flew, Gwen tried to keep an eye on the road behind the ground party, ready to give the word if anything came up behind them.
Meanwhile, ahead of the rest of the party, the woman in the red robes shivered, then grinned, turning to her two guards. She clasped her hands behind her back and glided across the room- or cave, as it were- deliberately placing each step. Her hands feathered just across the surface of the Light magic that disguised the entrance to their cave. At long last, she spoke.

"Gentlemen, are you familiar with the Bernese trapdoor spider?"

Confused, the armored men exchanged bewildered looks and then shook their heads. "No, Milady Brigitte, we haven't seen any spiders, or trapdoors. Should we have?" asked one of them. They weren't particularly bright, and were Lycian-born besides. Neither could fathom why she had chosen now to talk about spiders of all things. The inquisitor nodded.

"Well, perhaps not. Allow me to enlighten the two of you, as well as provide you with a valuable piece of knowledge about our work here." Brigitte paused for a moment, tilting her head as if straining to hear something, then smiled again. "The Bernese trapdoor spider does not spin its web like most other arachnids. Where other spiders content themselves with a net of sticky silk, ensnaring unobservant prey, the trapdoor spider is considerably more cunning. It makes its home in a hole in the ground, lined with fine silk fibers, a good deal of which are woven into a door over the entrance. This alone is a marvelous feat, to be sure."

The guards simply nodded, trying to follow as best they could.

"However, the true marvel lies outside of the spider's lair. You see, the Bernese trapdoor spider lays down thin, nigh-invisible strands of silk in a web around the outside of the door. Each of these strands leads inside her house, and each is stretched so tightly that the slightest movement instantly alerts the spider of the presence of her prey. As soon as one sets foot outside..."

With one swift movement, the blonde woman whirled around to the masked cave entrance, dispelling the glamour with a flourish. Even as she did so, she dropped low to the ground. Crackles of Light magic suffused her hands in an iridescent nova of force. Her eyes locked on the lone mage. It was unfortunate that only one was near, but the sensing field projected by the Holy Torch staff given to Brigitte by the Church was specifically designed to detect blasphemous magic. It would not be a total loss if one more corrupt mage were wiped off the face of the planet.

"She strikes."

The searing arc of the spell struck a manic glint in her bright blue eyes as it screamed toward Panika.
Panika sighed and kept her cloak around tightly more, and eventually she stood still for a moment. ... Panika's thoughts wandered off for a moment. She looked to her sides. Then, she walked forward. It was then and there that she realized that something was horribly wrong. The exteriors had lead to the opening of a cave. Panika had literally walked into the vicinity of an entire hideout. Well... Bollocks! I've done and gone messed up now! Panika blinked as she looked down on the ground. She winced. No way! Panika's thoughts went wild as she realized that she had walked into a trap! Damn, well it's surely a good thing I'm alone. Whoever's going to assault me here won't be able to eliminate me that easily, I'll be sure of that! Panika growled as expected, a blonde woman whirled around outside of the cave entrance.

Panika soon then eyed the magic that the woman was using. Ulp! Light magic! That's no good! Someone from the Church! That's bad, pretty damnably bad! she gasped as a bright, searing arc of light whizzed towards her. Panika grabbed her cloak and literally threw herself backwards, letting herself crash into the ground and rolling to the side as the trajectory of the light bolt crashed into the ground next to her, searing through a good chunk of her cloak and burning it to nothingness, leaving nothing but frayed leather. Part of her own clothes had been burned too, leaving flesh exposed. Curses! My cloak! And part of my clothes! She burned them! Well, better that than my own hide! Time for the emergency flares!

Panika, still lying on the ground, quickly performed a hand gesture, aiming her hands straight up into the air, and began to shoot a signal flare in the form of an airborne Fire spell. Quickly, she backflipped and began to bunny hop backwards away from the blonde woman. "Sorry, madame, but ye shan't be taking my head today! You will remember this day as the day you nearly roasted Panika Terranus!"
"Sorry, madame, but ye shan't be taking my head today! You will remember this day as you nearly roasted Panika Terranus!"

Great, another fanboy of Pirates of the Dune Sea. God dammit. He shrugged it off, getting back to business.

"There's the signal; let's go. And try not to get noticed. Whomever's there doesn't know where we are, at the very least not specifically, so use that to your advantage."

He ran up the trail keeping a look out onto his sides. God damn that woman was far away. He wasn't gonna lie though, the creepy staring along with the go-get-'em attitude reminded him suspiciously of sis.

Plus there's the liking of the same play Kalin goes to see every year. She even uses "Oi" (even though she said Oi vey). Were they long-lost twins? Was our family the victim of a baby swap? Do I have a long lost brother?

Ray got a little excited, but calmed down when he realized it wouldn't change anything.

He prepared a fire blast of his own. Pointing his hand forward like a gun, a bright, warm flame emerged on the end. He was going to nuke the first poor sod to step into view.
Gwen's attention was first snapped up by the bright flash from the distance from the direction Panika had disappeared in. She felt a bit uneasy; was that the signal? It didn't look a lot like any nature magic Gwen had ever seen. Shortly thereafter, though, a ball of fire drifted straight up into the air, unmistakably a signal flare.

That suggested the origins of the first flash of magic might be of less savory origins. Gwen couldn't help bit grimace at the prospect of enemy magic users; she'd signed up expecting to have to kill men with axes and spears. Some bows and arrows at worst. Magic and wyverns just didn't mix at all. Even so, it wasn't like it wasn't being made well worth her time to be there -- it was time to earn her keep.

"Come on, girl," she muttered, nudging Freyja's sides with her boots. The well-trained wyvern soared upward with a surge of her wings, gaining speed and altitude in rapid order. She drew her lance up out of the long sheath attacked to Freyja's saddle and leveled it for use on the way. The red-tinged steel of the lance's tip gleamed lethally in the sunlight.

There was Panika down below, flipping around like a monkey, but outnumbered. Mages were useful, but Gwen simply didn't trust them on their own in combat situations -- she was going to need to provide the mage-thief either an extraction, or a distraction. The decision was made for Gwen before she could arrive at a decision, however, when a bolt of something bright and magicy burned through the air next to her ear. Distraction it was!

Gwen urged Freyja to swoop down in a quick sweeping dive, changing altitude quickly and drawing the fire of at least one of the enemies. Whoever was shooting magic at her seemed like a good shot, but even so it was difficult to reliable hit a fast moving target at this distance. Gwen just needed to avoid getting her head blown off long enough for the others to arrive on foot and give further support to her and Panika.
Barry didn't bother pressing for small talk with Bor - it was clear he wasn't much of a talker. He simply jammed his hands in his pockets and kept walking, keeping close behind Cherise.

Just then, up ahead, a flash of light shot out from the side of the mountain - right where one of their party had been scouting ahead! Barry's immediate response was to step up in front of Cherise. As the flash dimmed, he could pick out a second burst of light, smaller and more sustained. It was Panika's signal shot! Ray was the first to react.

"There's the signal; let's go. And try not to get noticed. Whomever's there doesn't know where we are, at the very least not specifically, so use that to your advantage."

Overhead, their wyvern rider came swooping in to join the fracas up ahead. Barry merely kept pace with Cherise. He wasn't about to charge headlong into a maelstrom of magic spells - tough though he was, he wasn't stupid. Stubborn, maybe. But not stupid.

"Lass," he said, looking down at Cherise. "Shall we join them? I know yer loot's the top priority." He glanced over to Bor, then back to the young woman. "But we can get involved if needin' be."
Bor's nerves tightened at the sight of the sudden displays of magic. This was what he'd been waiting for. Warriors did not get hired for harmless strolls through the mountains, and he'd been itching for a good fight anyways.

At Barry's comment to Cherise, he grimaced slightly. He had practically forgotten: she was in charge, and she had charged him with protecting her.

He looked at her attempting to keep a bland expression, but everything about him trembled slightly like a hound waiting for permission to chase a rabbit.
Cherise took one look at the light show over the ridge ahead of them and swore profusely, shaking her head. This is exactly what she didn't want to happen, but here it was. The client hadn't mentioned mages, either, never mind hostile ones intent on barbecuing her crew. The mercenary's thoughts began to race, and she rested a hand on her rucksack. She tilted her head to listen as Barry addressed her, though.

"Lass, shall we join them? I know yer loot's the top priority."

That was true. The package was top priority, and the fact that Cherise herself wasn't quite sure what it actually was didn't make things any more comfortable. A more opportunistic member of her family would have ditched the others and made for one of the more treacherous paths up toward the summit, but two things prevented Cherise from doing the same. One, it was generally bad form, which was whatever. But two, without everyone who just left, two fighters and a swordswoman wouldn't last very long out on their own. That, more than anything else, finally tipped her hand. She turned to Barry and Bor, the latter of whom looked like he was about to tear off running even without her say-so.

"The item might be the top priority, but I don't like our chances with half of our number missin' or captured. I don't want to get terribly pessimistic or anything, but the first flash that we saw looked like Light magic. If the Church of Sanctity is involved, we're goin' to need as many of us as we can get." She paused for a moment, then grinned. "That's the long-winded way of sayin' we should probably start haulin' ass."

With that, she drew her sword and took off running toward the fight. When they rounded the bend into where the path widened out, the situation looked a lot worse than she'd hoped. The Church did look to be involved, and from the looks of it they were well-prepared for their entourage. Panika, Ray, and Gwen were all in various stages of engagement with a red-robed woman who could only be described as manic, flinging bolts of light in every direction. As Cherise approached, two hulking men with shining spears emerged from the cave mouth she had been planning to bunk in right about now.

"Well, that seems like it's a lot less possible," she growled. One of the men gripped the haft of his lance and aimed it at her, a bolt of light whizzing past her face. The acrid smell of burnt hair assaulted her nose, and she spat at the ground. "That's going to stink for a week, but not as bad as you will when I'm done with you!" she snarled.

Cherise took her blade in both hands. The men had reach on their side all the way, especially with her only having a sword. Instead, she left both of them to Bor and the Bear and rounded on the woman in robes and charged forward, coming up level with the mages. She tilted her head slightly toward the both of them.

"Well hey there, thought we'd drop in since we were in the neighborhood. Good to know you're making all sorts of friends, huh? Do you think if I gave you a distraction you could lay the smackdown on this crazy priestess?"
Backup! Backup's actually here! Panika thought as she stoppered herself on the ground and quickly shoved herself to the side to dodge another incoming bolt of light aimed at her face. A smile flashed on her face as the cloak was no longer covering her mouth, instead she inspected her foes for this engagement now that she knew she wasn't actually being left for dead. The sweetcheeks who threw light magic at her seemed to be draped in crimson, and reminded Panika oddly of Cinia's fashion sense, but this one was an enemy. She was guarded by two bruisers with shining spears. Then she recognized those shining spears. By ye...! Those can shoot magic. Oh well, they're probably slow and probably wouldn't be able to hit the broad side of a barn if they could help it, so I'll just do this. Panika grinned as, at this point, she was a fair distance away from the enemies, but she became more confident to rush in especially once she saw the boss, Cherise, come in with the two bruisers of her own.

"Well met, boss!" Panika hailed as she idly began to toss a knife in the air, watching it spin. It was immediately nuked to bits by a stray bolt of light. "Just you watch, I may have been caught off guard by the web I had been walking on earlier, but it'll take more than some stupid magician's toy trap to stop me." Panika grinned confidently as she didn't even care that most of her cloak had been burned and the entire right side of her body was exposed because of the light magic that burned a portion of her clothes. She turned to face the red-dressed priestess and leaped forward with an agility that was rather unusual for mages, but regardless, her body was leaned forward as she began to dash recklessly towards her. Most people would consider Panika to be quite mad, but she was banking on the assessment that as a Church magician or inquisitor or some such figure, she would be considerably weaker up close than from afar.

Sadly, when Panika spun around behind the lady to try and strike her with a blade, she felt the clanging sound of a staff block her attack. Damn! She's not bad. Panika stumbled back and felt her boots dig against the ground, and she watched as the lady, with a maniacal glee, attempted to punish the attack with a magical spell to the face, but Panika was able to spin about to the side and the only thing that ended up getting melted off was more of Panika's cloak and top, exposing more of her skin. "Dang, woman, you're sure good at trying to get your victims to strip, eh? Do ya swing that way?" Panika teased as she backflipped and attempted to throw one of her throwing knives in return, which did not in fact get nuked by a magical laser this time, and the blade of the knife literally grazed the woman's cheek. But that was pretty much all Panika could manage as she instead decided to look smugly at the Church inquisitor.

She responded by flinging another magical bolt.

Panika tossed her cloak into the air and let it get disintegrated as Panika lunged past the woman, landing into the dirt and rolling back upright. "Whew! Nice workout this be!"
"Dang, woman, you're sure good at trying to get your victims to strip, eh? Do ya swing that way?"

The combination of this spoken line and the ten second later tossing of her cloak into the air to expose herself, Ray could only think one thing.

Perverts, both of them!

It certainly distracted him, causing the fire ball he had shot off when the woman stepped out to go spiraling horribly, horribly off course. Some profanity escaped his lips as his group's leader passed him to engage the same woman who was thoroughly not roasted by a giant fireball. God damn she was fast.
Oh good, more help was here. As her attacker's attention was drawn to closer targets, Gwen had Freyja gain some altitude and come to a hover, surveying the battlefield for a moment. One hand went to a saddle bag hanging to her left, and fished out a small bottle of clear liquid. Removing the stopper with her teeth, she gulped it down.

Protection from magic! the merchant had crowed. He had better not have been lying. Gwen let the now empty bottle drop through the air, and narrowed in on one of the spearmen shooting magic, and gave Freyja the signal to swoop down toward him. The wyvern angled her wings, and dropped down into a dive. It wasn't so fast that they couldn't control the descent, but the air was screaming in Gwen's ears and against her face, and the mountain road below was rushing up toward her at an alarming rate.

They came down almost directly behind their man, and Gwen managed to drive a hard spear thrust into his shoulder blades. The armour kept it from being fatal, but he definitely felt it -- he stumbled forward with a startled cry, and it looked like she'd managed to rend the metal at least a little. Normally she might have had Freyja pounce on the man to savage him with her claws or teeth while he was distracted, but not now with so much magic flying around. So the two of them didn't even really stop after the strike -- they just swooped back up into the sky.

Unfortunately, this did not mean they got away entirely unscathed. Gwen felt something hot sear into her side, passing through her armour like it was nothing. She let out a hiss of equal parts pain and annoyance; it was impossible to tell who had shot her, or how badly she was hurt. She wouldn't know if the potion had worked or not until after she'd had a chance to remove her armour and examine the wound.

For the meantime, she just tried to get out of range again before the next one hit her in the head.
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