"Seems our guests have awoken with a fury."
The man of the air mask was pointing toward the women with one of his daggers.
"Do you think we would leave you with your weapons if we were concerned that you might shoot us down? That the high and mighty Kura was a real threat to us? You're a well known factor, love. An expected one, always putting your nose into others' business. We've had to speed up our plans thanks to you. And to your little pet there from the Elements. She must be new, I don't even know her name. No matter. She'll come around like so many others already have. But please, take a seat, enjoy the show."
While Rahmet was snooping around, he'd be able to find that the people in the room were the only ones present. No external guard, no additional forces were present in these underground catacombs. But a clear exit was also not found. Every way in was sealed and hidden. Stone lined every ceiling, wall, and floor. A closed tomb. And while Phelan was on his guard duty, he'd be able to sense, not in a traditional way of sight or smell, but rather, just gain a feeling of another being nearby, something similar to himself.
Sephira's attempt to attune to a man's frequency would take time. Five bits or so in order to glean anything, and required so much concentration that anything else would break her focus. But if she should manage to establish the connection, she'd be overwhelmed by the notes within the man's frequencies. Hope. Fear. Pride. Doubt. This man believed in the cause, but was unsure about the ritual at hand. And he wasn't alone. This note of doubt and fear resonated heavily through the crowd.
After all, every man there had a woman in their lives. A wife, girlfriend, lover, mother, sister, daughter. Women of Scalvoris were not lesser creatures like some truly archaic people might believe. If anything, the extreme natures of Scalvoris forged women and men alike of a higher, tougher caliber. Bred an oxymoronic, adaptable stubbornness. They were a people too tough to just give up, to lay down and die, to always become stronger. A call for power. That was the note that resonated so heavily within the crowd, the vibrations shuddering against Sephira who'd reached out.
And the man she'd chosen was one who wore a mask of Earth. And there, within him, connected to the rest of the Earths was a profound note. Disapproval. Disapproval for all of this.
The moment Vega's chain broke, part luck to poor craftsmanship, part due to her own surprising strength, and part due to the lingering effects of her sword being touched by the Death Forged Rose. And while that power was not available, it had helped strengthen her weapon, by burning away impurities within it, tempering it. It was a subtle effect, one that likely would go unnoticed for some time, but in this moment, it aided her cause.
This time the man in the Fire Mask spoke, pointing his sword toward Vega. "You. What are you? I sense the touch of the Inferno on you." He broke rank, moving closer along the dirt floor, looking up at their balcony, "Come, show me your Inferno. Do so, and you may choose one companion to go free, alive and whole. Refuse me, and I slay one here and now, and I make you show me." The man's sword lit up in flame, though was a far cry from the Death Forged Grasp Vega had.
Earth Mask stepped forward, "What are you doing Flame? We cannot afford to lose any of these women. The ritual demands it."
Flame rounded on Earth, pointing his blade, "This ritual is a far cry from that demanded by the Pures, Earth! You know this to be a desperate bastardization by Wind's lack of discipline! But she!" His sword pointed back at Vega without looking at her, "She is a Touched One. Pure. She is not soiled like all the others, like we are. She has the answers we need! The rest are just cattle to a pointless slaughter!"
"Calm down or be put down Flame."
The Water Mask gripped his spear, when a loud rush of water could be heard from one of the open four doors. The Flame snickered behind his mask, "I told you that your trial was a farce."
Water stalked off through the door, clearly agitated by Flame's taunting. Flame turned once more toward Vega, "Forget the rest of them. Only those of us who've seen true fire know its power. Help me unless it. It is why you are here. Not as a prisoner, but to be our Priestess. Join us, the rest go free. Refuse, I kill you, and your Inferno runs wild once more."
The Water Mask entered the drained chamber just in time to see Max's storm subside. The Water Mask had been around the seas more than enough to have met a Chrien marked or two, and this one must be new to her abilities. With the chamber emptied of water, spread out all through the viewing room, as the subordinate Waters shurked back from the fight, it meant that the water was no longer deep enough for the Rusalkis to swim in. Chrien doesn't acknowledge puddles. They were beneath her. And so, the magic cut short, and the four women found themselves face to face with a dozen Waters, the Water Mask, and of course, the unscathed mer.
Unlike Flame and Wind, Water wasn't a bit talker if it could be helped. And he looked on at disgust at his subordinates who had balked away from the broken trial, and had not yet secured the women. Those cowards would be dealt with later. The Water Mask summoned the released water to him, forming it around his body like a suit of armor made of whirlpools. Four women could be dealt with easily. And the Chrien marked was his first target.
After all, those that ally with Immortals are scum. Immortals were but babes when compared to the elements of the world. Puppets playing puppetmaster. Did they even know how weak they were? He launched forward in a charge, his legs pushing off with the swirling water powering him, a whirlpool punch heading straight for Max.
Meanwhile, the twins had already moved the moment the storm had subsided. They'd heard Lavana's words. A mortalborn was a powerful ally, and the pair had the morals to always pick the winning side. And having a daughter of Raskalarn owe you one, each, was a powerful favor. The twins began collecting the shards of glass, and started flitting them into the crowd just as quickly. Glass found itself embedded in eyes, necks, faces, all about, providing cover fire to keep the peanut gallery in check.
For the Mer smelled blood, and the beautiful Siren Class (Category 3), began to sing, a bone dagger in hand. She bounced lightly on the balls of her webbed feet as she attempted to lure any of the women forward toward her. Her sharp teeth glinted from the torch light, and the song continued to haunt the women.
And in Lavana's mind, she'd hear a voice she knew too well. One that had recently accused her of being the greatest failure, "Prove yourself."
Back in the chamber, there was silence after Flame offered Vega his proposal, Wind had other things in mind. He sent forth a blade of air toward Flame's exposed back. But it never struck. Flame's fire Guardian awoke, and ignited the blade of air. Wind Mask shouted, "Winds, subdue those women. Kill the fire touched!"
And Earth stood by passively, watching as Flame turned on Wind, and the two began their duel. His thick arms were crossed, and he yielded no ground as the fight started. His own units, to the women's left, did not move from their seats either. The Winds, twenty or so in all, began making their way toward the women's balcony, from the women's right. There was a stairwell behind the women that connected to a circular hall, that led to the other balconies in the amphitheater. And the majority of the Winds were restricted to this mode of travel. But a few, gifted with the power of Wind Defiance, leapt from their balcony, aided by their element as they flew toward the women, weapons drawn.
The powder keg had been lit.
And yet, Earth remained passive, calm, stoic. Watching, waiting. A stray burst of fire shot toward him errantly, and he didn't flinch as his Earth Guardian raised a pillar to stop the blast. He just watched and waited. And then he nodded his head. Stone hands reached up out of the floor beneath Vega, grasping her violently by the legs, one around her left knee, the other around her right thigh, and a loud crack of bone could be heard. In the brief moment before she could be seen, her left leg could be seen bent sideways at the joint. And as fast as quicksand, the hands yanked her through the stone floor, leaving Sephira and Kura alone in their defense.
Moments later, Vega floated up through the stone dolmen, her clothes tattered and torn, her skin heavily scraped, cut, and bruised from being dragged through the stone and soil, and the stone hands held her down by all four limbs.
"Flame. Wind. Enough."
The two leaders stopped, though the Wind Troops advancing on Sephira and Kura did not. Daggers and sword were sheathed away, and Flame chuckled. "Always so simple Earth. Flames, let's begin the ritual."
Every Flame troop stood up, some of them defiers, some of them mundane. The latter pulled out fire bombs, and threw them down in the arena along the edges, creating a ring of fire. The defiers took this flame and fed it, and began to send it in closer and closer to Vega. Wind and Earth encased themselves in their element's armor, wearing them as avatars for protection from the spreading inferno. As the flames raged and grew closer to Vega, the heat intensified, stifling.
The Flame Mask removed his visage, and Vega would see his blonde hair and bright smile, but would not recognize him. He stepped through the inferno toward her, letting the flames burn away his clothes but leave him untouched. He walked up to the dolmen, placing a hand upon Vega's cheek, "You've seen it haven't you. The Pure Flame? You'll have to show me one day, when I'm worthy. But first, I must give you a part of me, to appease the Pure Flame, and if it is pleased, it will visit us. And you will be it's Priestess."
As the flames closed in on the dolmen, the man could be seen touching his chest. And when he pulled his hand away, Vega could tell that he held something, though it was not within the spectrum of sight. But she could feel it's existence. He gifted this unseen object to the flames, and they danced in joyous glee. It strengthened them, their colors shifting from oranges and yellows to blues and whites. And the flames rolled over the top of the dolmen, and over Vega, burning away her clothes, enveloping her in the unyielding heat. And she was gone, lost in the bright white flames, and the inferno raged all through the center of the amphitheater, leaving Kura and Sephira truly on their own.
Until Vega heard the voice of her captor, "Give yourself to the fire. Let it in, or let it consume you. Either way, the flames will be happy. Life of the flame or death by the flame. Let it save you."