80 No Means No
Lyria was about to support Epsilon, but the dark mage held up a hand. "Magnus doesn't know that you have your abilities back. Let's use this to our advantage," Epsilon whispered.
Lyria nodded. She knew what to do. She stepped back and let them have a 1v1 battle, but stood alert in case Epsilon gets in a pinch.
Magnus and Epsilon stood facing each other, ready to strike the moment the other person makes a move. Magnus has never won a single battle against Epsilon. This fact has always bothered him as the guildmaster of Jupiter. The day he surpasses her would be the day he could finally live with himself.
"Come on, Maggie. Aren't you going to defeat me today? Or are you still soft and squishy like usual?" Epsilon taunted him. She liked to relish his angry reactions.
Magnus was annoyed. "You asked for it. Don't blame me if you collapse."
He raised his staff and summoned fire bolts. He continuously hurled them at Epsilon. In response, the dark mage ran to evade all his attacks. He raised his speed, exceeding that of a regular mage. Surprisingly, Epsilon managed to catch up with his speed and continued to evade his attacks.
That's weird. Can regular mages even reach that speed? Magnus wondered.
"Come on, Magnus. Try and land a hit on me. I'll give you these coupons as a prize," said Epsilon.
I have to finish her quickly, he decided.
He activated Crimson Rain, only there were three times more bolts and they all made sure to hit their target. Surely, poor Epsilon would be defeated by this skill that has been raised to the level of an ultimate attack. All the bolts came to Epsilon at once. The impact produced a shock wave and an explosion.
Lyria was blown away by the explosion and fell to the ground. She blocked the dust with her arm. Her surroundings were filled with clouds of smoke. She quickly got up and searched for Epsilon. She hoped it wasn't too late to support her.
Magnus coughed from the dust. Perhaps he overdid it. He felt a little sorry for Epsilon. He was beginning to feel guilty when the smoke cleared. Epsilon was still standing in place, unharmed. Her giant marionette, however, was in bad shape after having taken all the attacks.
"That was a close one. I almost died," Epsilon said to herself. Perhaps she should start taking Magnus' attacks more seriously.
Magnus was shocked. "How could you have survived that?"
Epsilon held up her noodle shop coupons. "Oodle noodles give you extra fighting power! Order five bowls now at an amazing discount. Hurry before the promotion ends!"
Magnus almost believed that her noodles gave her godly powers. "Alright. I'll order your noodles if you beat me."
"And become my slave."
"And become your sl—Wait. No! I will never bow down to you, Razette!" He pointed at her angrily.
Epsilon's expression turned dark at the mention of her first name. "Are you asking to die, Maggie?" She cracked her knuckles.
"Heh. I think you're the one who's going die today."
"Oho. Bring it on."
Lyria somehow enjoyed watching their exchange.
Fire blazed beneath Magnus' feet. "I'll show you the power of an enhanced fire mage," he said.
The fire spread around him, turning whatever it touched into ash. The burning ground was about to reach Epsilon when she activated Cursed Tree to counter the spreading fire. Because of the hack they made, her Cursed Tree was able to spread to a wider area than normal. It also gave her more buffs while standing within the cursed space.
"Humph." Magnus wasted no time and sent a rain of fast fire bolts at her. She used her marionette as a shield.
Lyria was beginning to get a little worried. Epsilon was usually not the type who would spend most of the battle defending. She would normally perform calculated actions to get the better of her enemy, but she was making no such move so far. Was she having a difficult time finding a good opening?
Epsilon glanced at Lyria. Was she asking for backup?
Lyria carefully situated herself behind Epsilon and the cursed tree, making sure that she wasn't visible in Magnus' view. She threw a fast dark property bolt at Magnus, making it seem like it was Epsilon who threw it. Magnus was caught in surprise by the bolt. He immediately stopped his rain of bolts to dodge the unexpected attack.
"Marionette, stone curse!" Epsilon commanded.
In a split second, the large marionette was right in front of Magnus. It withstood the strong flames under its feet that gave it a burn status.
"What!?" Magnus exclaimed after being caught unaware.
The marionette's palm almost made contact with Magnus' forehead when a sudden shadow ran in and stood in between them. With a single counterattack, Epsilon's cursed marionette dissolved into nothing. Epsilon watched in horror as her bolt shield was defeated by a mysterious shadow.
"You almost fell at her mercy, Maggie," said a familiar voice.
"Not you too! Can you please not make that nickname a thing? It's too girly," Magnus complained.
"But I think it suits you quite well."
The shadow began to morph into a real human being. A person they knew quite well.
"Lyng... vi..." Lyria knew they would encounter him eventually, but she didn't imagine that it would be so soon. He was looking calm as usual, dressed in his usual crusader armor that made him look like an archangel. His eyes met hers. The contact felt like the meeting of two lovers cruelly torn apart by fate.
"Why are you back here?" Lyngvi asked Lyria. He was a little unhappy to see her. He was already content knowing that she made it safely out, but now she's back.
She didn't answer him. To do that would be to reveal all their plans.
"How many of you came back?" This time, he looked serious.
"Sorry. I won't be answering any of your questions," Lyria replied.
Lyngvi sighed. "In any case, I'm taking you with me. You'll be safer with us." He walked towards Lyria and took her wrist. Suddenly, a cursed apple came flying and hit his head. "Ouch." He turned around.
"Ling ling, hands off her," Epsilon commanded while folding her arms.
"I can't leave her with a defenseless mage. How can you two possibly survive out here? Come on, Lyria." Lyngvi forcefully pulled Lyria's wrist.
"No!" Lyria resisted him.
"You're coming with me!"
Lyria was beginning to get a little annoyed. She pulled Lyngvi, lifted him up, and threw him to the ground with enough force to make him take her seriously. "I said no. Epsilon and I can handle ourselves," she replied.
Lyngvi stayed stunned on the ground. Where did that sudden strength come from?