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This article, The Quarter Finals Commence: Let the Blood Fly!, is property of Zicoihno.

Things Get Complicated

Lana ran her fingers through her hair as she walked down a corridor, passing several people who gave her second looks-- mostly the men. She had no idea where Sanjo or Richard were and apparently Zeo wanted complete alone time for himself. So she decided she would head for the buffet, and try score some of cake. "Where the heck is that Sanjo, I'm bored." she pondered as she approached the dessert line. She pickd up a slice and as she turned, she bumped into someone, knocking the cake out her hands.

The young man scrambled to catch it, but was too late. There was cheesecake all over the tile floor. Lana just let out a big sigh, as he looked at her fallen treat. The blue-haired man stood up to face Lana, but as her face came in sight, his eyes widened. Wearing her normally serious expression, Lana folded her arms across her chest. " The customary thing to do is to say sorry. " she remarked. A smile cracked across his face. "Such beauty! I usually don't do this. What's your name?" he inquired.

Lana jsut rolled her eyes at the statement. "I don't need compliments. What I need is another slice of cheesecake." He scratched his head, a little emabarrassed. " Sorry about that, I wasn't thinking. My name is Kenshin , I'm the leader of a team with the same name." Lana began to walk past him, when he spun around to catch her attention.

"If you must know, I'm Lana and I'm part of Team Vista. Oh and I'm not interested." Lana stated coldly. Kenshin smirked, "So the Golden Lion has such a hottie on his team. Lucky bastard. It's a shame we must fight in due time though." The words didn't really interest Lana, as she shrugged and walked away.


"Ritza!"

Ritza coughed on the apple she munching on. "Liam , what the hell?!" she protested as she jumped up from her chair, a scowl on her face. "Well, Ms. Captain. Shouldn't you be readying yourself for the match today. We're up against Vista's group." There was awkward silence following his words. Ritza thought back to her confrontation with Richard in the forest.

"I know, I know, but there's not much to prepare. You're not gonna get any better in a day." Ritza took another bite of her apple. "...so, I figure I'll relax myself for the coming battle." she remarked, taking another bite of the juicy apple. Liam sighed, she was just being careless. “How exactly are we going to go about this battle? I mean, they have 4 people and we have 3?” Liam asked.

Ritza shrugged, “The fighters decide how things like that are dealt with. We can just make so the first team to get 3 victories wins.” Liam nodded in agreement, that made sense. In spite of her calm demeanor, Ritza was worried on the inside. She knew she’d have to take Sanjo head on, a daunting task it seemed.

"I figure Ritza is more nervous then she lets off" said a male voice from a far. Ritza and Liam turned to see their other comrade enter the room. "Kurosuke , where have you been?" Ritza asked with a cocked eyebrow. "Eh, just some meditation. The match is in less then an hour." Kurosuke. he took a seat at the sofa and crossed his legs to get comfortable.

Ritza ran her fingers through her hair. "Well, I have faith in you two. Let's just do out best." she said in a soft voice. Both nodded in agreement. It was time to head off to the battleground.

Team Vista vs Team Skull!

The crowd roared as Megan hit the stage, a huge smile on her face. They were hungry for violence, good old bloody violence. People we're still pouring into the stadium though. According to her sources, Megan found out that even more people had bought tickets for the tournament. But that was a good thing nonetheless. She took in the sight, as she saw the arena truly full to capacity.

It was the Quarter Finals!

Sanjo walked towards the tunnel into the arena, flanked by Lana on the left and Richard on the right. Zeo was trailing behind them, same apathetic look as usual. "You guys hear that? The fun is about to begin." Sanjo remarked wit a smirk. Lana smiled, "You sound like a kid in a candy shop, Sanjo." The noise of the crowd got louder and louder. "But I guess a good fight is that interesting for you" Lana added.

"For sure, I'm on cloud 9 right now." Sanjo replied. They stopped outsid of the tunnel and saw the platform several yards away. Richard cocked an eyebrow at the statement. "I thought relaxing was your bread and butter?" Richard asked in a cynical tone. Sanjo scratched his eyebrow, Richard had him there. "Well..." Sanjo muttered, "...they both are.".

Richard and Lana chuckled, Sanjo had an answer for everything. Zeo just stood there. Aside from him, the team was in high spirits. They stepped onto the platform, standing across from Team Skull's members. A smug look was on Ritza's face as she saw Richard. "Look who it is!" she said, rolling her eyes.

Richard sighed. She seriously had a problem with men not apart of her team.

"ALRIGHT!" Megan's voice bellowed. "Now we're at the exciting part, folks! The Quater Finals!" The crowd roared as soon as those words left her mouth. "Today's matchup is Team Vista vs Team Skull! Let's get ready for some serious action!" Megan shouted. There were murmurs amongst the crowd about Sanjo's team taking this win. But the fighters all shut these things out.

Sanjo shielded his face as the sun shone down on them brightly. "It's a damn nice day." he thought to himself. Lana stepped closer to Sanjo. "So who goes first?" she asked calmly. Sanjo stroked his chin. "Well it's obviously not me." Lana could do nothing but just stare at him for that sarcastic remark." I guess you should go first, no?" She nodded in agreement with his decision.

Sanjo turne to Richard and Zeo for approval, and that he got. Amongst their conversation, Liam had already approached center stage, Lana stepped before him, a confident smile on her face. "Well, looks like it's gonna be Lana vs Liam, folks! Let's get ready for the first fight!"

"GET HIM!" a voice hollered, cheering on Lana.

Appearing on her arms was her signature dual weapones-- Glacier Edge. Ice hissed as it forze over the blades. Liam eyed the weapons with interest. "Well, I can't lose here. Have at me." Lana stated.

"Begin!"

Wind is His Ally.

The crowds cheers filled the background. Lana's focus was soley on Liam though, her enemy before her. They were locked in a deathly stare, sizing eachother mentally. Liam's eyebrow twitched, in that moment, Lana took off towards him. Zeo's eyebrow arched as he saw Lana das towards Liam, she seemed abnormally excited. "Hopefully Lana does nothing reckless." he muttered to himself.

Lana came at Liam with a powerful slash, he barely dodged as he sidestepped and made some distance between them once more. Lana twirled on her heel and charged at Liam. Her opponent took a strange stance as the wind around the stadium got stronger. Sanjo's eyes widened in shock as he noticed what was going on.

"LANA!"

She peered over he shoulder to see Sanjo shouted, hands funneled aorund his mouth to project his call. She had no idea what he saying. But it was too late. "Great Wind Breaker!" Liam commanded. He thrusted his hands forward as a giant gust of wind blew Lana back.

Lana shielded herself with her blades as she quickly skidded backwards across the battle platform. "Dammit!" Lana rushed to hold her place firm as the wind subsided. Liam just stood still, same expression, as if waiting for something. Lana smirked, :"Wind magic, huh." Lana dashed at him suddenly again, in a zig zag pattern.

"Wind is my ally, my weapon." Liam remarked, turning to find Lana to have haluted on his right flank. Lana slashed her weapon forward. "Ice Slasher!" A blade of magically enhanced ice launched from her blade. The crowd awed as it made contact with Liam.

Drops of blood hit the ground as Liam lowered his hands that defended his frontal, or most it. Lana smiled at the sight of it. "You're pretty good to have defended against that with just your body. You are truly a worthy opponent." Lana remarked. Liam rubbed the cuts on his arms, as he walked over shards of ice. "Same goes for you, Lana Kaen."

Megan's voiced echoed in the background, as she continued to feed commentary to the surrounding crowd. A smile crossed Sanjo's face. Richard turned to Sanjo, tapping him on the shoulder. "Something funny happen?" he asked. Sanjo exhaled softly, "I just find it interesting how this match is going." Sanjo said, narrowing his eyes at the two, who were currently clashing. "They look like they're having fun for some reason."

Liam lunged forward as he swung his arm, projectiing a wave of blades composed of just wind magic. Lana dodged the first two with grace as she slashed through the third one. She launched into the air toward Liam. Liam sent himself backwards with a gust a wind . "Tch" Lana landed on the ground.

Liam twirled his arms softly in front of him. A magic circle opened on two sides of Lana. Her eyes shifted left and right to seem them glowing. 'Compression!" Liam shouted, as the cyclones of wind smashed into Lana, swrling together to make a destructive dome of wind. Sanjo clenched his fists in panic. "Lana! Are you alright!" Sanjo shouted.

Ritza chuckled, "I didn't expect him to lose composure like that. I guess since it's that women" she thought to herself. She kept her eyes on the spot Lana had been. The attack had subsided and the cloud of dust lifted. Ice shard flew freely through the air. At that moment, Sanjo, Richard, Ritza, and especially Liam were in shock.

He franctically turned to see Lana rushing towards him. Her clothes were scuffed up, but a fierce look was in his eyes. It was too late, he could escape her speed. Lana slashed Liam clear across the chest. Blood gushed out and flew through the air as Liam fell back. The crowd and Megan were in pure shock as Lana haulted in silence.

Ritza lost all composure as she cried out Liam's name. The crowd fell silent. Kurosuke clenched his teeth as he saw his comrade's blood splatter across the platform floor. Lana's blade shimmerd in the sunlight, there had been no movement in Liam. She stood up straight and peered over her shoulder to seem him unconsious.

Lana turned to Ritza. "Don't worry, that cut was too shallow to kill him. He'll be fine." A sigh of relief left Ritza's mouth. It may be the Hell Tournament, but her comrades were important to her. "Well all there is to wait for the countdown. "Megan interrupted.

"1, 2,3...4,5,6....7,8,9...10!" Megan shouted. "And it looks like Lana Kaen is the winner as Liam has been down for 10 seconds now. "

The crowd erupted in pro-Team Sanjo cheers. Sanjo smiled at Lana, this was what he wanted to see. Lana looked towards a smiling Sanjo and couldn't help but exchnage the favor. "Who'd think she pull an Ice Clown out in this battle. Hell, I didn't even know she could do that." Richard said, stroking his chin. "What do you think, Zeo?" His comrade shrugged at the question. "I had expected her to win, that's all I can say, really." Zeo replied. Richard simply shook his head at the weak response.

Lana's weapons disappeared as she walked towards her team. She found herself in front of Sanjo. He extened his fist. Lana smiled as she did a fist bump with the blond mage. "I know you didn't think I'd lose, Sanjo?" she remarked. Sanjo crossed his arms. "Of course not, It takes more then that to take the Ice Princess down." Sanjo replied. She rolled her eyes as she walked over to Richard.

Victory was hers. Now onto the next battle. Kurosuke stepped onto platform, his coat flowed withh the natural wind. Megan awkwardly shuffled towards him. "So you're up next, sir? Alright." Megan turned to the crowd. "Alright onto the next round, looks like Kurosuke will defend Team Skull. Now who from the opposition will join the fray." Megan shouted.

Sanjo narrowed his eyes at Kurosuke, he wasn't an easy opponent at all. Zeo walked past Sanjo, taking him by surpise. "I'll handle this, Golden Lion."

Zeo's Challenge

Among the cheers and calls of the crowd, Kurosuke stayed silent. Just his eyes followed Zeo, as he walked towards the center of the ring to face him. "I cannot let a person who hurt one of Ritza's friends off easy." Kurosuke stated coldly. Zeo didn't bother to respond but rather turned his glare a nervous Megan. "Right" Megan turned to the crowd quickly. "Alright, folks! Now we have Zeo vs Kurosuke!"

The volume of the crowd's shouts went up a notch. Anyone could tell this would be interesting. In the stands Team Kenshin was observing the matchup. But more importantly a smile crossed the face of Mr. Marx. "Oh this is gonna be interesting. Shame things may get cut short." he muttered to himself. "Cut short?" One of his fellow commitee members interjected. "Don't fret, just enjoy the show, my friends." Marx replied.

"Begin!" Megan shouted as she scurried to the farthest part of the ring.

Kurosuke clasped his hands together quickly, earning an arched eyebrow from his opponent. On the sidelines, Sanjo, Lana, and Richard watched on, not worried about Zeo at all. "Tch," Ritza moaned, as she crossed her arms. "It's like he's taking his time." Sanjo noticed how Ritza changed quite a bit in combat.

Electrical surges started to crackle and cause the audience to awe. They pulsed around Kurosuke's clasped hands. Zeo narrowed his eyes at his opponent's hands. "Lightning magic, huh." he pondered. Soon as Kurosuke opened his hands, a wild untamed torrent of lightning rocketed towards Zeo. He took no step back or even to the side as the incoming attack came at him. "Hmph, " with one swipe of his hand, Zeo redirected the attack tot he sky as it made contact.

Ritza took a step back in shock. She'd never seen someone deflect a lightning spell so easily. Kurosuke eyes widened in disbelief, followed by the crowd's gasps. Nothing but a smile crossed the faces of Team Vista. Stray static still surged around Zeo's hand, but he thought nothing of it. "If you actually think magic of that level can harm me..." Zeo lowered his hand. "...then this battle won't be good for you."

Kurosuke clenched his teeth as a Scythe appeared in his hand. Sanjo chuckled at the thought of how many people here seemed to have some sort of mastery over Requip magic. The blade shimmered in the sunlight, it was a truly long blade for a scythe. Kurosuke dashed towards Zeo at full speed.

Zeo stepped back quickly as a slash barely missed his face. Sidestepping, Zeo sent a powerful kick at Kurosuke's chest. The latter blocked in the rod of the scythe, the force of the kick pushed him back a few feet. Zeo rushed at Kurosuke. They exchanged blows at incredible speed. Zeo dodging all of Kurosuke's slashes left and right, with great skill; in exchange, Kurosuke managed to block Zeo's kicks.

Zeo flipped backwards to evade a downward attack by Kurosuke. In mid air, a black spiraling ball of energy formed in his palm. He shot off the blast directly at Kurosuke. "Shit!" Electricity surged through his scythe, as he began twirling it nonstop...rendering Zeo's attack pointless.

Zeo landed gracefully on his feet, several yeards away from Kurosuke. "Had I slashed that attack in half, it could of hit the crow, and I'm not that type of person..." Kurosuke remarked calmly. "...you're not pulling any punches, huh?" Suddenly black ethereal hands broke through the ground under Kurosuke.

"What the?!" Kurosuke panicked. The arms spiraled around him, binding his body. His scythe hit the ground. Kurosuke was trapped. A worried expression formed on Ritza's face, this was trouble. He frantically looked to see what he had set up. "It's just a binding spell, there's no other stuff in this." Zeo said. He walked slowly before his captured opponent.

"Death Hands Binding, that's the name of it. It's not very high level, but if a user of considerable raw magic power uses it...well you get the point. "

A cracking noise cut Zeo off. The black arms binding Kurosuke began to wither. Shocked, Zeo jumped back several yards as a precaution. Cracks literally splintere through the arms, as if the magic was being shattered. A smirk crossed Ritza's face. Zeo narrowed his eyes at Kurosuke, not sure what was going on. Kurosuke broke the bindings around him, causing the crowd to gasp in awe.

Zeo simply watched as Kurosuke rubbed his shoulders, making random complaints about how tight the binding was. But the question was how this was even happening . "You see my magic is Darkness Charm . With it, I can literally taint your magic.So that--" He felt a powerful blow hit the back of his neck , sending to the ground crashing.

"Even if your magic allows you to infect my magic, that's nothing but a defensive power in the long run. All I have to do is hit with enough power before your magic is invoked, rather simple," Zeo remarked, keeping his eyes on Kurosuke who was currently stumbling to his feet in pain. Kurosuke clenched his teeth in frustration, frustration that fueled even more at the sight of Zeo's apathetic expression.

A sense of worry ushered onto Ritza. The calmest member of their group was being tested just as much mentally as physically.. She had a bad feeling about this. She looked over to the other side to see a calm Richard, he seemed in the match. She shook her head, that wasn't important right now.

Kurosuke raced over to his scythe and then immediately dashed at Zeo, the tensions were high. He whirled the scythe around him as to keep Zeo out of range before he attacked. Zeo dodged the slashes one by one. "If I use any simple magic, it could just be tainted by this guy. I need to end this..." Zeo thought."....he's not worth this much time."

With that in mind, Zeo sidestepped on Kurosuke, grabbing the scythe in his hand. In a tug of war, Kurosuke fought to keep his weapon. Suddenly Zeo dropped down, swiping Kurosuke's feet from under him. Sanjo cocke an eyebrow in surprise. "It's over." Sanjo said to himself, putting his hands in his pockets.

Kurosuke struggled to get up, but halted at the sight of Zeo glowing hand before his face. A drop of cold sweat flowed down his face, he knew that move. "Soul....Break," Kurosuke muttered, as the blood in his veins went cold. "Right, this match is over, Give up and say you forfeit..or see a pitiful defeat." Zeo's words caused Kurosuke to raise his arm.

Megan ran over to the two, currently locked in a test of wills; Kurosuke had lost. "I....give....up" Kurosuke shamefully. The crowd booed him, as they got up in rage. Other could see the battle had always been Zeo's. Kenshin showed no suprise.

"Well, folks. It seems Kurosuke forfeits this battle!" Megan shouted, getting mixed responses from the crowd.

As he walked towards Ritza , she simply walked past him. No words or even a glance, she leaped to the center of the stage. "Hey, announcer, " Ritza yelled, beckoning Megan to come her way. " I've decided to take on Richard Ariu or whatever his name is." Megan scrathced her head in confusion at Ritza's request. "Shouldn't you take on Sanjo, Ritza?"

"That doesn't matter now..." she pointed her finger at Richard. "....bring it!" Richard landed before her, only 3 or 4 feet between them. Sanjo and Lana's eyebrows twitched at Richard's improved sppeed, not having expecting such a swift entrance.

"This should be fun. Please don't hurt me too bad, Ritza." Richard taunted.

Sudden New Developments

The crowd roared, as Richard and Ritza face one another. Ritza was rather pleased to be able to fight Richard. She'd admit there was something interesting about him, she couldn't put her finger on what it was. But like most men, he annoyed her. Scratch that, he annoyed her more then anyone else in their few interactions. It was time to see what he was made of.

"Alright, begin!" Megan shouted.

Ritza shot towards Richard. He kept his eyes on the green haired woman as she came closer. A fist rocketed towards Richard face, but he easily dodged it. He deflected her second punch, as she exhanged blows at high speeds across the battle platform. She kicked in between his guard, yet, he dodged once again. Richard jumped back, skidding across the ground.

He needed to make some distance between them, she was dangerous to continue on with when it came to unarmed combat. "You're an annoying person to fight, you know that." Richard remarked. "....I guess this won't be a walk in the park." Ignoring his words, Ritza quickly clapsed her suddenly glowing hands together "Earth De--" She suddenly leaped backwards, being cut off by a large sharp pillar of crystal almost impaling her.

She landed a few meters away. That had been a close one, had it been any of her other comrades....they'd be dead, no doubt. She glanced at the pillar of crystal, the tip look sharp as a spear. Was he gonna use deadly force in their battle? "You didn't actually think I'd let you cast an earth spell just like that, did you?" Richard mused. "It's Crystal make, a maker magic. Nice reflexes, I must say." Richard finished.

Casting aside her shock, she was running plans through her head to counter Richard. But she noticed a weird expression on Richard's face. "What?!" she sneered, one knee on the ground. "Well, I had been wondering something about. How did you consume that guy's magic during the first rounds?" Richard asked, folding his arms across his chest.

"Reverso."

"Re-what?" He replied confused. "Reverso, fool. It allows me to eat my enemy's magic." Ritza added. But that wasn't the whole of it. Admittedly, Reverso was no use in this match. Only spells in a non-solid form could be absorbed. Absorbing magic infused crystal was out of the question. She got to her feet, she'd just have to use that then.

Without delay, Richard dashed towards Ritza smiling. "Well, let me show you who's superior." Ritza took a defensive stance at those words, ready to counter. He suddenly appeared at her right flank, sending a kick to her stomach. But she got a way in time. She flipped over Richard, his eyes followed her superior agility. They locked hands suddeny, trying to overpowwer one another. The crowd was on the edge of their seats.

Ritza clenched her teeth, as she was being pushed back by Richard's superior physical might. Suddenly, she let go and pushed her body up against him. She kissed him. Shocked looks filled the stadium, no more then his comrades though. But in his shock, he felt a kick nail him in the face, sending him out of the ring.

The crowd awed at what just happened. Sanjo quickly turned his attention to Richard. "You sure as hell better be getting up, Richard!" Sanjo shouted. A smile of satifaction crossed Ritza's face. It wasn't how she would of wanted to do it, but all men have one weakness they just can't beat. Richard landed on the battle platform firmly. He set his eyes on Ritza, a single stream of blood dripping from the side of his mouth.

"That was a low blow, " Richard remarked, wiping his mouth, "a really cheap one." Ritza shrugged at the comment. "Whatever works. Just making the situation work for me." Ritza replied. It was just a simple strategy of using his hormones against him, though she admitted to herself that it wasn't half bad to execute. With that in mind, both suddenly dashed towards eachother to clash once more.

Suddenly a wave a rainbow colored energy impeded their paths, stopping them in their tracks. The crowd gasped, Megan was in shock and confusion. Inside their skybox, Marx sat there unfazed. While his companions were outraged.

A blue cloak flew in the wind. A golden staff in hand, a young man turned to Richard. "This tournament is over, or at least your time here, Richard Aria." The young man stated calmly. Immediately Mari before him. "What is the meaning of this. No military personnel or Magic Council members should be here!" She commanded with a waving hand motion to emphasize the situation unfloding before them.

Ignoring her words, he turned to Sanjo and Lana. "What's one Guran Doma's special messengers doing here?" Lana asked. He was silent for a moment, the young man could tell he stirred up quite a situation. But it was his job, and his services were at the disposal of Guran-sama. " Wizard Saint Sanjo Vista, Lana Kaen, and Rune Knight Richard Aria. Fiore is in trouble. That is why even in this neutral area, you had to be contacted." His words caught them by surprise.

Before he could ask the young man to elaborate, shouts and cries caught his attention amongst the audience. It was then he noticed more of the Elite Magic Council messangers. People were getting up and leaving. "The news has finally reached this far, that's why people are panicking. Fiore is in a troublesome situation. " The young man added. Sanjo scratched his head at the sight of it all. " I guess that's that. The comittee isn't even interferring. Let's go, guys. Back to Fiore."

After getting the news of Fiore recent situation, Sanjo and co make a swift return back to Fiore. The tournamet is cancelled suddenly by the Chairman, Mr. Marx. Also there's been no sign of the other committee members in 2 days or so. What will happen next?

That's the end of this arc, go to Chronicles of a Mage to find the link to the next chapters and new arc.

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