A strange flying machine appeared through the rift. It was large, and it looked a lot like something from one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings. It had the structure of an ancient ship, made of dark brown wood, and odd metal wings that looked like brown dorsal fins. A figure was standing at the front, wearing a red armor and carying a long oak staff with three metal claws at the top end.
Everyone below just stared at it, wondering where it could have come from. A few moments later, Arche broke the silence and said exactly the same thing everyone else is thinking.
“What the hell is that?!”
The strange airship descended and the red-armored figure looked around and speoke with a strange voice, searing and rumbling, like an enormous wildfire.
“So… This is Thezaria… It doesn’t look all that impressive.”
It then looked at the Academy.
“So, there are Wizards here… A minor setback…”
Its hand glowed and a huge fireball burst from it and struck the Academy, engulfing it in flames.
Arche grabbed her broom and flew towards the airship, completely outraged.
“Hey! Who the hell do you think you are?!”
The figure turned and saw her.
“Hahahahahahaha… And who might you be, little one?”
Some of the wizards were desperately trying to put the fire out, while the others gathered. The old wizard spoke.
“Are we going to let some outsider just waltz in here and do this to our ancient Academy?!” The others answered in unison.
The old wizard stared angrily at the airship.
“You’ll pay for this, whoever you are! On my mark…”
The wizards started gathering their power.
“Let him have it!”
Hundreds of fireballs, lightning bolts, water jets and ice spikes darted towards the airship.
Arche looked at the scene.
“Hey, save some of the fun for me!”
She then cast Meteor Storm, materializing colossal chunks of space rocks all around the airship and hurling them towards it. The red-armored figure just stood still for a few seconds, before reaching for a red orb that was hanging from a chain around its neck. The orb started glowing and a monstrous fire wave engulfed the stream of spells and dashed towards the wizards.
“Save your strength, fools. You might as well run for your lives.”
Arche barely dodged the fire wave and she saw the wizards below, trying to take cover. Angela tried to weaken it with a series of freezing spells, and she managed to undo it when it was about to hit them. She then turned to the airship and waved the Ganvathein in a threatening pose.
“I don’t know who you are, but you’re in for a real beating, you beast!”
Sakura decided she had seen enough. She drew her blade and made a huge leap, landing right on the armored figure’s head. She then bounced off and pointed the legendary sword at its throat.
“You’ll pay for this! I’ve had it with you random ultimate villain wannabes and your senseless destruction!”
Her eyes were glowing red. The figure simply laughed and answered in a mocking tone.
“Oooh… We have a brave girl here, then! I’ll be sure to end this quickly.”
The blade seemed to become electrified through her fury.
“Shut up! Your party is over!” she said with a furious resolve.
The figure replied.
“On the contrary, it’s just beginning. These peasants shall know true power. As for you…”
Before she could do anything, a torrent of flames burst from the orb, knocking her flying out of the airship. She rolled and bounced against a tree, breaking the fall. The airship then flew away, while Arche and Angela were busy trying to help the others. Sakura stared at it.
“Very well, you coward, run… If it wasn’t for the people that could get hurt here, I would end this right now.”
She then joined the others and started looking after the injured Wizards. Angela managed to put the fire out, but most of the building was ruined.
END OF PROLOGUE
Chapter 1 - The Invasion Begins
Arche looked at the blackened ruins and saw how the fire had consumed thousands of years of knowledge, research and wisdom. The ancient building now appeared humble and on the brink of collapse, a husk of the glory it had showed just instants before.
Several wizards were lying on the ground, and although most of them were miraculously uninjured, the old master they had seen so bravely leading the defense was now in a terrible state. His tunic was covered in ash, his beard and hair had been scorched by the flames. With the last of his strength, he tried to get up, with his soul filled with despair and his heart broken by the horrible scene he had witnessed. Sakura rushed to his side.
“Allow me to be of assistance, Wise One.”
She carefully helped him get back on his feet and then reached for a small pouch that was hanging from her belt. He grabbed a small vial, filled with a colorless liquid, and gave it to the wounded Wizard.
“Drink this… It will help you recover your strength.”
The old man looked at her eyes. He was a bit suspicious of the three strangers, but he was grateful. They had fought bravely to protect the Academy, and he felt they could be trusted. He weakly grabbed the vial and drank the liquid inside. A comforting warmth filled his heart, and he felt better, although exausthed. He looked at Sakura with a sad glitter in his tired eyes and addressed her in a voice that showed how devastated his spirit was.
“Everything… centuries of hard work… Everything is gone… This place was everything to me… I dedicated my life to the pursuit of wisdom… and now…”
She tried to comfort him with a soothing tone.
“Worry not, Wise One… We will find who did this… and why. While you live, you can always look for a new beginning. You can always recover what was lost.”
The tired old man looked at her and saw a strange force within. Her words were reassuring, and he felt a tiny flicker of hope.
Angela and Arche pulled out a few medical supplies from their backpacks and tried to treat the other Wizards. Being very far from the sweet harmless girls they seemed to be, they started making very angry faces and planning a very painful death for the strange figure that had caused the devastation.
“I’ll whack him where it hurts, freeze his guts and blow him up!” Angela said, opening a bottle of healing potion.
“That’s nothing compared to what he deserves! I say we smash him with a good old Meteor Storm and have Chameleon devour him!” Arche replied, while tightening a bandage around a wizard’s arm.
Then, the sky got darker, a thunderclap was heard, and rain droplets started falling over them. Arche looked at the clouds.
“This looks bad. Getting soaked won’t help them recover.” she said.
“We should take them to the city. They’ll be safe there. I just wish the others were here. They would have kicked that bastard’s butt all the way into the Ethereal Void!” Angela replied.
Suddenly, they heard the noise of horses running on the road. In a few moments, they found themselves surrounded by a group of knights, wearing the same kind of armor they had seen at the city gates. Their leader dismounted and looked at the devastation.
“By Azalghar… What happened here?”
The old wizard walked to him, helped by Sakura, and explained.
“A Planewalker… set the Academy on fire.”
The knights looked at him, stunned by what they had just heard.
“A Planewalker? A dweller from another world?!” the leader asked, with his eyes wide open. The old Wizard’s answer was chilling.
“Indeed. We know that by mastering the power of Mana, it is possible to open paths to other realms. Until now, many thought that it was a mere rumor, but… the ancient Master Mages left many notes behind. According to them, such a thing is possible and feasible, as long as there is enough Mana to cast the appropriate spell…”
The knight was shocked.
“But that means… That means that our world is in danger… With that kind of power, who knows what those outsiders will do to the land?”
Sakura looked at the other two girls.
“Maybe this is why our good friend asked us to come all the way here… To stop this.”
Angela grabbed the Ganvathein.
“I just don’t get it… How did he know…?” she replied.
Arche started thinking.
“Well… he is a bit unusual, but then again, so are we. Hehehe! Well, the best thing we can do now is contact him and try to find out more about that pyromaniac while we wait for the others.”
The knights looked at the three and their leader spoke after a few seconds.
“And what brings you here? You certainly don’t seem to be from this kingdom.”
Sakura immediately understood where the conversation was going, and she decided to answer.
“We are travelers, working with the representatives of a higer authority to investigate a few strange events. Now, we plan to find out who that Planewalker is and what he is up to.”
The knight looked at her.
“A higher authority…? You mean His Highness?” he asked.
“No, higher than that.” she replied.
After a few seconds of hesitation, he spoke again.
“Well, you do seem to be better prepared to deal with this situation, so I’ll let you handle it. However, if there’s anything we can do, let us know.” he said with a determined tone.
He then turned to the old wizard.
“Master, this rain will do you no good. Please, give us the honor of having you as guests until we can rebuild the Academy.”
The old man hesitated.
“Well… I guess there is little we can do here. Good luck in finding our assailant, girls.”
He then grinned with a bit of anger.
“And when you do, let us know, so we can make him pay.”
The group left, while the three stared at the desolation. Angela broke the silence after a few minutes.
“I don’t get it… why would someone from another world just barge in, set a Wizards’ Academy on fire and dash off? This doesn’t make much sense…”
Arche raised her broom.
“He called them ‘a minor nuisance’… Maybe he’s up to something big, and the wizards could get in the way… Dhaos had his own plans for Mana, and anyone who could use magic would be a target.” she said.
Sakura looked at her blade.
“That is the only explanation for now… Well, we seem to have found the cause of our friend’s concern. Now, we should call the others.”
She looked at her left wrist and uncovered a high-tech communicator with a holographic projector.
“Thank God they made it waterproof!” she said.
“Well, just in case…” Angela replied, before raising the Ganvathein. A small magical barrier appeared above them, shielding them from the rain.
“If those things get damaged, then we’ll have to go back on our own.”