In an instant, an overwhelming surge of arcane power erupted from its epicenter, shattering the barge into fragments. However, instead of sinking, an extraordinary event unfolded.
The pinkish-purple energy lingered in the air, transforming the once solid planks into weightless flotsam, suspended mid-air by the peculiar energy emanating from Rixa's arm.
To the astonishment of Callis, who usually kept his thoughts contained, he couldn't help but vocalize his disbelief.
-This... is impossible,- he murmured, his words escaping involuntarily.
As a student of history, the Beast Blade recognized the significance of what was transpiring.
Controlled levitation on such a grand scale belonged to the realm of legends, an ancient arcane secret passed down through the ages by the Seven Ancient Magus.
Amidst the chaos, Novus and Rixa found themselves at the epicenter of this incredible phenomenon, hovering high above the river's surface.
Following closely behind them were the shattered remnants of the barge, even lifting Callis and Lis, who desperately clung to their pieces of handrail and wooden planks.
-This situation has spiraled out of control,- thought the Older Serico Sister, attempting to conceal her fear.
She hoped that assuming control would provide her with a semblance of stability in the face of the unknown.
Swiftly, she contorted her body and retrieved a knife hidden in her boot, pressing it against Novus' chin, a display of both determination and menace.
-I'm not playing around, kid. Put an end to this madness, or I'll gut you like a fish,- she threatened, her knife drawing a thin line of blood.
However, it became evident that Novus was no longer fully present, his consciousness consumed or altered by the extraordinary powers at play.
The Young Arcanist's heart was consumed by a gripping fear that surpassed any threat Rixa could ever muster.
Novus was overcome by this primal emotion, his heart and reason ensnared by its icy grip. His eyes widened in sheer terror, almost popping out of their sockets, as he gazed downward, paralyzed by his fear.
He clung to Rixa's arm like a helpless ragdoll, his fingers desperately grasping onto her with all the strength he could muster.
But he remained motionless, unable to sever the connection that bound them. The brief moment of clarity he had experienced before the final surge of energy had been overshadowed by the inky blackness of terror, which now consumed him from within.
-Why aren't you listening?!- demanded the Older Serico Sister, her voice dripping with frustration.
She pressed the knife deeper into Novus' neck, drawing forth a crimson stream of blood. It was a wound that, while not immediately fatal, posed a significant risk if left untreated.
Strangely, the blood didn't flow downward as expected. Instead, it transformed into small levitating spheres of liquid, mirroring the behavior of the river beneath them.
Even amid this magical maelstrom, the metallic scent of spilled blood reached the Beast Blade, who hovered below them on a large piece of the stern, held aloft by the same arcane energy that permeated the area.
-MES IGNEUS!- bellowed Callis, a surge of realization flooding over him.
His prodigious nose, having finally recovered some semblance of normalcy since the earlier duel, allowed him to identify exactly whose blood he was smelling.
Without a moment's hesitation, the Beast Blade sprang into action. Though his body felt lighter than usual, he utilized this newfound buoyancy to his advantage.
Skillfully leaping from one floating fragment to another, he ascended towards Novus and Rixa, determined to intervene and bring an end to the chaos engulfing them.
-No, you won't!- The pint-sized Berserker's roar pierced through the chaos from below Callis as she noticed the Beast Blade's trajectory.
Lis Serico, observing from beneath, mirrored the same determination and nearly matched agility.
She fiercely began her own ascent, utilizing her weapons to pierce into the levitating planks, grabbing hold of them, and continuing her relentless climb upwards.
Callis proved to be faster and more agile than Lis, but the Younger Serico Sister displayed a desperate determination, leaping with reckless abandon and scaling the floating debris as if possessed.
Meanwhile, Callis maintained a measured approach, blending grace and speed, fully aware that a single misstep could spell failure.
Above them, the surging energy continued to emanate from Novus and Rixa, sustaining the levitation of the barge's remnants.
The floating pieces danced slowly around the two, resembling a celestial ballet with the tattoo acting as their sun.
Novus, though still terrified, managed to regain a fraction of his rationality, only to find a knife pressed against his neck. He quickly attempted to defuse the situation.
-I'm trying to calm down! I'm trying! Having a knife to my neck isn't helping!- The Young Arcanist's voice trembled with fear, his words laced with terror.
-The knife stays until I have my feet firmly on the ground. I don't want you pulling any fancy tricks,- Rixa retorted. Accustomed to dealing with cold-blooded adversaries and arrogant individuals, Novus' vulnerability caught her off guard.
Meanwhile, a long-anticipated confrontation was about to unfold below them. Callis and Lis locked eyes, their mad ascent halted as they sized up their opponent.
Over the years, they had engaged in countless battles, with Callis holding a slight advantage in nearly every aspect.
Yet, despite his victories, he had never managed to definitively overcome the Younger Serico Sister.
While he often emerged as the victor, he struggled to apprehend or halt her escape, as Rixa always had a contingency plan in case things went awry.
The tension hung palpably in the air as Callis and Lis faced off, their eyes locked in a fierce stare. The chaotic surroundings seemed to fade into the background, their focus solely on each other.
Callis, the seasoned Beast Blade, exuded a quiet confidence, his battle-honed instincts sharpened by years of combat.
Lis, the rabid Berserker, radiated raw determination, her fiery spirit burning brightly within her hot enough to consume her from the inside out.
The clash between them was not just a physical contest, but a clash of wills, a culmination of their shared history.