The group decided to set out during the first rays of sunlight the next day as the sun was setting by the time Hanamaru had explained everything. Hanayo set up tents for everyone using thr same spell she sused with Eli and everyone took turns guarding the camp for enemies.
The group consisted of everyone beside Nozomi (who insisted on keeping watch on Eli), Rin and Hanayo (who were assigned to guard the camp), and the Kurosawa sisters (who returned to the castle to report the situation).
"We're here." Hanamaru stated, her voice close to a whisper. The castle was old, very old. Some parts of the wall were broken and exposed and vines grew all over the place. There were also undead guards patrolling the area; a guard passing by the group's hiding spot every five minutes.
"How do we get in?" Umi asked, trying to find any opening without being spotted by the guards. Hanamaru pointed at a hole in a wall, just big enough for one person to crawl in.
"We can go through there one by one or," she then pointed at the slightly opened back door, "we can go through there. We just have to time it."
"Let's use the door, we have no time to waste." Nico suggested and the others agreed.
Miraculously, they made it inside the castle without being spotted, well barely. Honoka had somehow tripped on air, sending everyone thudding to the ground. They all shuffled to the door before a guard turned by the corner.
"That was close…" Honoka sighed in relief as she slid down the brick wall.
"And whose fault do you think it is?" Nico snapped at Honoka, the latter playfully sticking her tongue at her.
"Let's get going. We only have four more hours until the curse or whatever takes effect."
Hanamaru lead the way, using her teeny bit knowledge of the castle layout. They were about to reach the center of the castle when a mob of guards jumped from the corner, startling them.
"Dodge!" Umi grabbed Hanamaru as the latter let out a tiny squeak. Maki immediately jumped in, muttering a spell she memorized from her grimoire and a sword made purely of flames appeared as she slashed one of the undead guards.
"By my order, appear before me and heed my command. Minions of the Underworld!" Nico summoned ten small, purple goblin-like creatures, all with daggers in their hands. With a flick of a finger, the minions attacked the other guards.
"The light that binds us together, I ask for your guidance, Sun Spear!" Honoka charged forward with the blinding spear in her hands, engaging in battle with what seemed like the leader of the mob.
"I now call all the winds from the North to aid me in this battle, Northern Breeze!" With a wave of a hand, a cold wind circled some of the undead guards, freezing them in place.
"There's more coming!" Kotori exclaimed, using one of her spells to enhance her hearing.
"You guys go ahead!" Honoka turned to Maki, Umi, and Hanamaru as she swiftly dodged the leader's attack.
"Honoka's right. Let's go." Maki pushed Umi to move forward with Hanamaru following behind. Umi looked behind one more time as they turned to a corner and she saw Kotori flashing her a sweet smile before it was blocked by a freezing undead guard.
"Kotori, look out!" Nico yelled, waving her arms around as a shadow slashed through an undead guard that was lurking behind Kotori.
Kotori snapped out of her trance as her eyes went down to the sliced body of the undead guard. "Thank you, Nico-chan!" Nico blushed in embarassment as she looked away, earning a giggle from Kotori.
"Shadow Spheres!" Dark balls hit some of the undead guards, their bodies dissipating in the air. Nico clicked her tongue in annoyance as the guards she beat up judt keot getting replaced by new ones. "When will these idiots stop appearing!"
"Invisible Hand!" Kotori's arms were held out as an invisible force threw out two undead guards out the window. She huffed, her mana slowly draining. She knew she won't last any longer if this keeps up. "Maybe there's some spawner around here or something?"
"Piercing Solar Rays!" Honoka yelled. Her grimoire began glowing as rays of light came out of the pages, piercing the undead leader. "Maybe, but this castle is so big."
Kotori's eyes squinted in suspicion as she watched the guards wobble in their place when Honoka's attack hit the leader.
"Crap, we won't know if we stay still."
"Wait, Nico-chan!" Kotori called out before the small raven-haired run off, "I think I found the spawner."
"Where is it, Kotori-chan?"
"The leader is the spawner." Kotori exclaimed, freezing an undead guard that lunging its sword to her.
"It's leader, huh?" Nico looked at the leader before she grinned, dashing towards the huge armored undead. She whistled and the minions she summoned were beside her, "Attack that big oaf!"
"Yosh! I'm joining in too!" Honoka announced, dashing to the leader and avoiding the guards that were blocking her path. Kotori followed, freezing the guards that were charging towards her.
"Spear of Death!"
The trio attacked the same time and leader howled in pain, dropping to his knees. Honoka jumped in the air, her spear shifting to a sword.
"I now pass judgment to the creature that defied the laws of Life and Death. As the follower of the Sun, I judge you as guilty. Go back to the realm of the dead, Sun's Strike!" Honoka's sword glowed brighter that Nico and Kotori had to cover their eyes. With a swift slash, the leader's head rolled to the ground as the body dropped to the ground.
The body crumpled into ashes along with the rest of the guards. Honoka slumped on the ground, raising her fist up in the air as her sword vanished. "We won!"
"I'm sure the others wouldn't mind if we rested for a bit right?" Nico muttered, sliding down the wall as she bid goodbye to the minions. Kotori hummed in agreement and she sat next to Honoka, praying that the trio would succeed in their own battle.
The remaining trio ran and ran until they can't hear the sounds of spells clashing and swords clinging. Panting, Hanamaru slumped on the floor. "Give me… a minute, zura…"
"We don't have enough time to rest. Maki, stay here until Hanamaru can walk. I'll go ahead."
"Umi, that's too dangerous."
"Yes, she's right. It is indeed dangerous to engage in a battle with the fallen angel alone." Three heads turned around and they saw Yohane proudly standing in the middle of the hallway, a smirk on her face. Well, half of her face since the mask was obstructing half of it.
Yohane walked towards them and Umi summoned a water sword in her hand, Maki standing beside the blue-haired girl.
"And you. How dare you escape the chambers, my little demon, Zuramaru?"
Hanamaru huffed as she stood up, balancing herself to stop herself from kissing the floor. "I am not your little demon, zura. Return Yoshiko-chan to us."
Yohane laughed in amusement as black wings sprouted on her back. "I'm afraid I can't allow that to happen."
Black spheres headed towards the trio in lightning speed and Maki barely had time to create a wall of fire to disperse the attack. The trio rolled to the sides; Hanamaru to the left, Maki to the right, and Umi charged forward.
"May the spirits of the waters guide me to victory; Torpedo Thrust." Umi's speed was doubled as she thrusted her sword forward, only for Yohane to side-step and kick her to a nearby wall.
"Is that all you got?"
Umi groaned as she sat up. Sharing a side-glance with Maki, the both of them lunged forward, Maki to the front and Umi to the side.
"Shadows that dwell in the darkness, the great fallen angel Yohane orders you to protect thyself from these impure beings; Shield of Darkness!"
"Argh!" Umi and Maki stumbled backwards as shadows enveloped Yohane's body.
Yohane stepped towards Umu as she towered over the tired and growling girl. "I pity such weak creatures. How about I do you a favor and let me end your misery?"
"Yoshiko-chan!" Yohane was about to stab Umi when she paused abruptly, giving the blue-haired girl enough time to blast a water ball on her stomach. Yohane flew to a nearby wall, creating a crack on it.
Hanamaru blinked. Did Yoshiko just respond to her? Gears in her head turned and her face lit up, a smile plastered on her face. "Umi-san, Maki-san! I have an idea!"
"What is it?" Umi stood in front of Hanamaru as the latter stood on her feet, her smile never wavering.
"Please leave this to me, zura." Despite being confused, Umi took a step back as she stood beside an equally-confused Maki.
Hanamaru gulped. She was not sure if this was going to work but she would do anything right now just to bring an old friend back. "YOSHIKO-CHAN!"
Yohane emerged from the rubble, sending a glare towards Hanamaru. "Yoshiko is long dead, Zuramaru-"
"Yoshiko-chan isn't dead! Yoshiko-chan is still alive, I can feel it!" Hanamaru shouted back, taking another step forward.
Yohane growled as she hopped off the rubble, taking a step towards Hanamaru. "Stop your delusions. Yoshiko does not exist anymore."
"Shut up! She does exist, zura! If she doesn't, you won't be cowering in fear whenever the light torches in the underground dungeon would flicker!" A step.
"You are just imagining things!" Yoshiko threw a shadow ball towards Hanamaru but the latter side-stepped, surprising Yohane. When did Zuramaru became this agile?
"You are so stubborn! Remember when we were kids? You don't like hanging around with others so you always come to the library with me!" Hanamaru took another step. Yohane's glare faltered as she clutched the side of her head.
"And you always had such bad luck, Yoshiko-chan. You always trip out of nowhere or get chased by a pack of dogs while walking!"
"What are you… doing to me?" Yohane fell on her knees as the red glow of the mask began to flicker.
"And… and you told me had a crush on-"
Hanamaru was cut off when Yohane shrieked in pain as the mask separated itself from her, shadows surrounded the mask until it formed a silhouette of Yohane. Hanamaru dashed towards her friend, catching the girl. She turned around to face the equally-stunned Umi and Maki.
"Umi-san! Maki-san! Please destroy the mask, zura!" Hanamaru yelled, dragging Yoshiko with her and taking shelter at a nearby pillar.
Umi shook her head to snap out of her thoughts. Sharing a look with Maki, they both dashed to the shadow.
Umi once again sped up towards the shadow and Maki's sword burned brighter. The mask, still adjusting to the loss of its vessel, had no time to react as the duo striked their swords. The mask was cut to four pieces as it fell to the ground, the menacing glow in its eyeholes fading.
The blue-haired girl dropped on the floor, her sword disappearing. Her mana was drained from the battle as she shared a victory grin with Maki, who leaned against the wall and de-summoned her flame sword.
"Ah, we did it." Umi muttered, a tired smile on her face.
A/N: I'm sorry for the late update. I experienced a mini writer's block while writing this chapter. I had a fun time coming up with the spell phrases and names tho.Response to review:CyberAkumaTv-san: Actually, I'm a YouRiko shipper myself lol. I also ship ChikaYou, ChikaRiko, and YohaRiko but YouRiko is my superior ship.