Ariana brought her hands up towards her head and brushed back her hair in one swooping motion with her fingers. "Alright, it's okay.... it won't be a giant guessing game anymore. You can sense the change that should give me and advantage.... Can you tell how much time I have before I change?"
'I'm sorry Master, I can't figure out the exact moment but if I had to guess... an hour, maybe two at the most.' Duko said causing Ariana to curse. She pulled off her night gown and looked at herself in the mirror. She slightly turned and felt a sad pain in her heart. Edlyn took her to a magical salon just three days ago and they were able to fix her hair. With a heavy sigh she bundled her hair together and moved it off to the side. She looked at her back and cringed. The slash across her back healed but it left a scar an inch wide, the pinkish colour contrasting against her fair skin.
She let her hair go and turned away from the mirror. She felt angry and bitter tears start to well up. "I can't go anymore, can I?" She asked as she tossed her head up and stared up at the ceiling, trying to stop her tears from falling down. 'No Master... you will miss the opening.' Lorelei answered sadly.
Ariana brought her face back down, brushed her tears away and stomped towards her bed where she tossed her night gown. She grabbed the gown, angrily pulled it over her head, shoving her arms into the sleeves and allowed gravity to let her gown fall. After she was dressed again sh stood in her empty room, completely lost in thought.
'Master... in no time your cycle will end. Once you get used to it, it will be as normal as breathing.' Aroha said in a comforting voice but Ariana stayed silent. After a few moments Ariana puffed out her chest and turned to face the door. 'Master, whatever your thinking right now don't!' Aroha shouted but Ariana picked up her pace. She rushed down the stairs and made a sharp turn. It was still early and almost everyone was sleeping. She walked up to a door and started knocking rapidly, until a very angry Gregory answered. "What do you want?"
"We need to talk... I have less then an hour before I change and I want to finalize our deal." She said as she stood her ground. Gregory hesitated as he clutched the side of his door. He then stuck his head out further and looked down both ends of the hallway. "Fine, come in." He said as he pushed open the door and allowed her entry. "Were you able to confirm any flaws with the jewel I gave you?" She asked as she stepped in.
Gregory carefully closed the door behind her and turned to see her looking around his room. "Yes and no." He answered as he leaned back onto the door and crossed his arms over his chest. "Explain." She said as she had her fill. His room was nothing that spectacular, it looked like her own but more masculine looking with its wine and gold colouring. He had a ma.s.sive desk that was littered with papers, books and pens, a mini library along half of the right wall, his bed in a corner, a closet and a vanity mirror.
Gregory pressed his lips together and stared at Ariana like she was a demon from h.e.l.l, he didn't like that she was in his room, he didn't like she was in a night gown and he hated that he was tempted by her with what she told him were jewel eyes. "The ball you gave me was a high quality Topaz. You know it's hard to find this colouring in Topaz, the appraiser was practically begging me to sell it him."
Ariana waved her hand in the air to dismiss the thought. "That stuff is unimportant, I want to know if you took it to your contact at the research facility." Gregory brought one finger up and waived it in their. "Tsk, tsk, tsk Ariana. I will get to that when I am ready.... you know you could tell me why the information is so important to you... I don't even think you were very honest with me about the reward for helping you find this flaw." He said with a mocking smile.
Ariana temper rose as her cheeks started to turn red. "Do you want my help to find your fiancee or not?!" She shouted as she clutched her hands into fists. "As if you can find her! She was taken by the church! I know she was and you think you can win me over by your honey soaked lies?! My contact could only confirm what the appraiser said. It's a very high quality Topaz!" He shouted back as he took long strides from the door, only stopping when he was an inch away from her.
He grabbed the collar of her nightgown and pulled her upwards, making her match his eye level. 'Master all this anger is speeding up the process.' Duko warned but Ariana stayed silent. "You think you can always have your way? Always pushing yourself into things that are none of your business." He growled between his clenched teeth as she glared right back at him. "There is no way in this world that the ball you gave me was ever someone's eye." He said before he tossed her towards the ground.
Ariana landed with an awful thud but she refused to let a sound out of her mouth. She kept glaring at Gregory and it infuriated him even more. "Then why did you let me in?" Gregory flinched for a second then he seamlessly composed himself. "Easy, I went into your room and stole the second ball."
"That was not part of our deal!" She shouted angrily as she tried to get back up but Gregory placed a foot against her chest and pushed her back down. "You should count yourself lucky that I did. Both appraiser and contact couldn't explain the perfection of the Topaz ball... How in the world did you it? See here is the funny thing, not only are they perfect that are also identical to each other.... it's not possible, not for even the masters! Even if jewels look identical there is always a small difference but those b.a.l.l.s... then I thought you owe me an explanation. So here we are."
Ariana looked up at Gregory with complete disgust, she smiled with contempt and relaxed her body so that it would fall back onto the floor. 'Master, this is dangerous! You may change any minute now!' Duko shouted and Ariana's flashed something sinister. She then took a deep breath in and exhaled, screaming at the top of her lungs. "What are you doing?!" Gregory panicked but pressed his foot down even harder against her chest. Ariana's screams were now laced with pain but she didn't stop. Within seconds Roland kicked down the door and paled at the sight before him.
Ariana let tears run down her face as she looked pitifully towards Roland, she could hear more footsteps rushing towards them. "Please.... bunker.... Gregory can't hold me for much longer." She said breathlessly. Roland looked at Gregory and he quickly moved his foot off her chest. Roland bent over and scooped her up into a princess carry.
"What's going on?!" The Countess shouted as she reached the room. "It's time!" Roland shouted and the Countess stepped aside immediately. They all raced down towards the bunker leaving a dumbfounded Gregory in his room. 'Master it's coming!' Duko shouted again.
Ariana struggled to get out of Roland's embrace as she shouted for him to let her go. Roland stopped running and placed her gentle onto the ground. Ariana started to scream in pain as she stared to break her own skin with her nails. This time the transition was a lot smoother but the screams were nothing short of hair raising. "Ariana?" The Countess said cautiously. "Yes grandmother I'm still here." She answered as she flexed her limbs. "Lumas were you able to absorb more of my power?" She asked and she frowned after a moment. "Ariana what's wrong?" The Countess asked as she took a step forward.
She then looked at the ones who followed her into the bunker and shook her head. "They said the magical energy I release when I transform isn't pure..." Roland looked at the Countess for help but she couldn't come up with any words. "It's alright Miss, they are at least by your side, regardless of their form." James' words warmed Ariana's heart and she couldn't help but smile. "Well, now that everyone is fine we should make sure Ariana's body is alright." Tillie said as she walked over and placed a firm hand onto her shoulders. "Right! March!" She commanded and ushered Ariana further into the bunker.
Ariana was breathing hard as sweat rolled down and off her face before hitting the ground. Mini Charoites, only standing at 12 inches high were running around her with their mitten hands up in the air. "Did you... huff.... really have... huff... to make this.... ugh! Huff, huff, huff.... so difficult?!" Ariana shouted breathlessly as she straightened up her back. "It's called training for a reason! Now get back to your drills!" The Countess shouted as she raised her arm into the air. "Ready level 3... and fire!"
"Sh*t! I just need a minute!" Ariana cursed under her breath as some of the mini Charoites merged together and formed a barrier. While the others formed into two giant hands. Flying in from all directions were different types of projectiles, Ariana narrowed her gaze and watched as flaming arrows came from the front, gas bombs from her left, acid shots from her right and she didn't even have time to check behind her.
She fell backwards onto her tail and used it to pushed herself upwards. She soared through the air as she did a backflip, avoiding everything and landed onto one of the giant hands. She looked down and felt a sudden pain in her chest. The barrier put up be Charoite was now in pieces and her sweet pet was withering away. 'Master! Look out!' She heard Aroha shout. Ariana looked back and instinctively tried to fly away but was caught within the explosion.
The fire arrows were never aiming at her but rather some strange blue stones that landed behind her. The moment they made contact, they burst, sending a ma.s.sive shockwave attack towards her. Ariana was sent flying towards the wall, breaking it into smaller pieces when she collided. "You did it again! How many times have I told you?! Your wings are not necessary for your defense! They are a liability! Think child, think! How can you get the upper hand?!"
Ariana pushed herself out of the hole she created, pieces of rumble fell out as she moved. "They wouldn't be a liability if they weren't chained together!" She shouted back just as electrified bolas flew towards her. She quickly dropped into a split and bent slightly backwards. She watched as the bolas lodged themselves into the hole in the wall. She knew she didn't have time to think the next wave was coming and she needed to move.
Just as she got up, her eyes grew wide, she had never seen something so mesmerizing. Waves of earth started to ripple along the ground as tan coloured lights sprayed upwards. Before she could even blinked the waves reached her, she observed the lights and then felt something crawling up her legs.
"For the love of.... why?!" She cursed, the waves had created a light residue that trapped anything it caught by turning it into rock. She struggled trying to pull her legs free but the movement of the waves started to pick up and more rock started to form on her body, pinning her into place. She could hear her grandmother laughing darkly as she struggled to break the rock from her body.
"What is this?!" She shouted with pure anger and frustration. "Don't like the attack?" The Countess mused as she watched Ariana glare at her with murderous intent. "Have you never heard that the best offense is defense? Honestly this is the last time we can train together before you leave and we all know how vulnerable you are in this form! Focus Ariana! How are you going to break free?" Ariana didn't budge and just stared at the Countess.
"Fine, pout for all I care! All you need is a good motivator to make you work! Alright, fire!" The Countess shouted. Ariana's eye grew wide, she watched as both fire and ice arrows came flying towards her. Seconds later the arrows collided and steam was everywhere. Everyone held their breath as they waited for the steam to clear, keeping their eyes glued to where Ariana was standing.
The steam rose and Ariana was gone, instead there was a weird rock formation that extended from the ground. Everyone started searching the arena with their eyes. Next thing they knew a giant black circle appeared center stag. The waves couldn't penetrate the area and moved around it. A black fist rose upwards and slowly opened, Ariana was curled up in the middle of a giant mitten hand. She slowly stood up and looked at the Countess.
"Level 6 now!" The Countess shouted and James' hand hesitate in the air for a bit. He gave a deep sighed and sliced the air, stopping his earth attack. He looked towards Tillie, who crossed her arms over her chest, she looked at Leigh who flung her ice bow towards the ground, creating a small geyser as it collided. "Madam, are you sure we won't hurt the young Miss again?" James warned but the Countess was in training mode and logic was out the door.
James looked at Roland and Gregory with concern but both men were already stretching. "She's tuff be careful." Roland said as he smacked Gregory's back then walked over to James and held out his hand. James pulled out 6 gray straws and placed them onto Roland's hand. "I have a score to settle." Gregory said as he locked his gaze with Ariana. "Don't over do it..." Roland warned and eyed Gregory. While Gregory avoided his gaze and jumped over the railing.
Charoite lowered Ariana down, dissolving as she put both clawed feet onto the ground. He then reformed and made himself into an army of Charoites, only 3 feet in length. "I won't go easy on you." Gregory said as he stared Ariana down. "And I won't hold back either." Ariana responded as she held up her claw hand, signalling that the Charoite army was to stand their ground. Gregory didn't waste any time, he quickly charged towards Ariana and threw a flaming fist towards her face. She caught with easy as she raised an eyebrow.
"If this is all you got, no wonder you are only second in -?!" She started to say but the protective armor that coated her hand started to heat up. She pulled back quickly and looked at Gregory's face then fist. The metal knuckles he hand on were turning bright red. He started to move his fingers in a slow, waving pattern and she could see the metal turned molten. He moved the liquid metal effortlessly between his fingers as if it was regular slime in a child's hand.
"It looks like my little 'quirk' can do some damage..." Gregory said as he started to stalk around Ariana. "Let me tell you something that my dear aunt failed to mention to you... Everyone close to her is 'special', so special that no one needs to under a single incantation to activate our attacks. Ever wonder why?" Ariana narrowed her gaze at Gregory and started to stalk him back. They faced eachother without missing a beat as the circled one another.
"I would a.s.sume it's the same way I activate my attacks... there's a fragment of an elemental deep inside." Gregory's eyes grew wide and he stopped his pace for a moment. He clutched his molten metal then flung it at Ariana. "Only a freak like you would come up with that kind of answer!" He roared. Ariana caught the molten metal in her claw and instantly dropped it, she looked up and Gregory closed in, grabbing her wrist.
Ariana's wrist started to glow and sweat started to roll down her temples. "We all have dominated our familiars!" He hissed as he tightened his grip. Ariana screamed as she dropped to one knee. She looked into Gregory's disdained filled eyes and let out a strained laugh. "Backing out?" She asked causing Gregory to go beserk and amplifying his power. "It's useless! You have nothing I want!"
Suddenly a chain came flying at them and Gregory released Ariana's wrist as he jumped out of the way. Ariana followed the chain with her eyes and saw that it was coming out of Roland's cupped hand that was over his mouth. Ariana then her a sizzling sound and looked down, a giant piece of liquid garnet was on the ground. She then moved her gaze towards her now bare wrist.
The chain started to move, Roland pulled the chain slowly and started to silently wrap it around his knuckles, wrist and arm. While Ariana gingerly touched her exposed skin. Gregory started to laugh darkly as he shot a distasteful glare at Roland. "I thought those chain darts were for the monster?" Roland looked at Gregory with a fierce look in his eyes. "They are."