Ultimate Wizard: Recap

 

The road so far

 

As part of the Hand, the Crimson Thunder Ranger participated in a ceremony called the Sabbath, which unleashed creatures called Phantom Demons into Angel Grove. The Demons burst from people called Gates — humans with an affinity towards Shadow energy.

 

One Gate survived: Austin. His hope suppressed a Phantom Demon before it could burst through his body. 

 

A stranger called the White Mage appeared to Austin. The Mage told the teen he could use the power of the tamed Phantom to become Kamen Rider Wizard. He also gave her a girl, Luna, with no memory. She needed regular infusions of Austin’s magical energy to survive.

 

Maya and Kouishiro — formerly Kamen Rider Kuuga — supported Austin in his fight against the Phantoms. He gained an ally, Kamen Rider Beast, who kept his past a secret.

 

Led by Wiseman, the Phantom Demons hunted Gates to drive them to despair and create more Phantoms. They targeted a girl named Miranda, twin sister of Lisa, the Gate whose death released the Phantom Demon Medusa during the Sabbath.  

 

Medusa nearly drove Miranda to despair. But Miranda suppressed the Phantom.

 

Afterward, the White Mage appeared to Miranda, told her she now had the power to become a mage, and teleported her away.

 

Now

 

Chapter 47: Kamen Rider Wizard

Second Sabbath: Mage

 

The Spriggan Phantom hacked his way through a group of Chunin and headed towards the nearest stairwell.

 

From his jail cell, Leo slid his Beast Ring onto his left hand. He snapped into his transformation pose. “Awaken!”

 

He thrust his ring against his Beast Driver and turned, snapping the buckler open. “OPEN — LION; AWAKEN.”

 

The buckler emitted a circular field of golden energy that slid across Leo and activated his armor. He transformed into Kamen Rider Beast. 

 

Beast kicked the jail cell open and dashed into the corridor.

 

Spriggan turned to face the Rider. “So…the Primordial Mage. Here. Do you fight for the Hand?”

 

“I fight for myself…and right now, my self’s feeling starving,” Beast said.

 

The Rider rushed to attack. He snapped a volley of kicks and punches the Phantom dodged.

 

Beast snapped a roundkick. But Spriggan grabbed the Rider’s leg, swung him off the floor, and bashed him against the wall.

 

***

 

While Kamen Rider Beast helped the Power Rangers learn more about the Hand, Austin stayed behind to track down Wiseman.

 

Maya, Luna and Austin waited for Kouishiro in the rear of the antique shop. Jesse stood nearby.

 

“You really met the Power Rangers?” Jesse asked. “And you didn’t think to bring me?”

 

“It wasn’t exactly a meet-and-great,” Austin said.

 

Kouishiro walked into the room while dusting off a newly crafted ring.

 

“Here it is,” Kouishiro said as he set the green ring onto the coffee table between Austin and Maya.

 

“A new familiar?” Austin asked.

 

Kouishiro nodded. “I’ve modified this one to detect shielding magick…I hope. So if Wiseman’s hiding, we’ll find out where.”

 

Maya smiled and squeezed Kouishiro’s hand. “Good work.”

 

“Don’t thank me yet,” Kouishiro said. “I still haven’t found the last new familiar I tried to make.”

 

A small purple golem peaked out from underneath the couch, then snapped back into hiding, unnoticed.

 

“We’ll give it a try,” Austin said.

 

“Austin, wait,” Luna said as she lifted a crystal ball from an end table. The ball showed an image from one of Austin’s familiars in the city. “It’s a Phantom…”

 

ArachneThe crystal ball showed the Arachne Phantom torment a 12-year-old boy named Kane Hallowell.

 

“That’s a Gate?” Jesse asked. “He’s just a kid…”

 

Austin quickly snapped his Wizard Driver into place and slid Kouishiro’s new ring onto his left hand. He placed his hand over his buckler. “PANTHER; AWAKEN”

 

His ring flashed with green light and summoned a small, handheld, green-armored panther. Austin slid off the ring and attached it to the panther’s chest.

 

The panther growled and ran out the nearest door.

 

“There,” Austin said. “The panther will do its work. I’m going after that Phantom…”

 

“Be careful,” Maya said. “This might be a distraction. If Wiseman knows we’re trying to close in on him…”

 

“I’ll be fine,” Austin said as he dashed out the door.

 

***

 

Beast hopped against the wall, pushed off, and kicked the Spriggan Phantom. The blow knocked the demon back several steps.

 

“Now that’s more-”

 

Spriggan tackled Beast against the wall and tossed him aside. 

 

The Rider crashed and rolled to his knees.

 

Groups of Genin and Chunin flooded into the prison corridor. But suddenly, waves of Ghouls appeared and slammed against the ninja. The Phantom grunts clubbed and speared the ninja aside like rag dolls.

 

Several Ghouls swarmed around Beast and attacked, bashing him to the ground. They armed staffs and speared the Rider repeatedly, blows sparking on impact.

 

The Rider kicked the legs out from several grunts and flipped to his feet. He armed his baton and slashed them aside, blade sparking and hurling them backward.

 

Spriggan charged and bashed his shield against the Rider, hurling him to the other side of the corridor. The Rider crashed and skid across the floor.

 

Kamen Rider Beast rolled into a crouched stance and tried to catch his breath.

 

Then suddenly, his mind snapped onto the Astral Plane.

 

Leo found himself standing in white emptiness. He knitted his brow. “Okay…this isn’t disturbing at all…”

 

A yellow cloud formed behind Leo and took shape as the Chimera Phantom. The Chimera lived inside Leo and needed the energy of other Phantoms to survive, and as a result, so did Leo. 

 

“Beast…” Chimera said. “It appears your life is at an end.”

 

“You’re awfully pessimistic,” Leo said as he turned to face the creature.

 

Chimera started pacing around the rider. “I thought I had finally found a servant. But perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps it is time we parted.”

 

“You’re just going to bail on me? We had a deal…” Leo said.

 

“You have yet to become stronger,” Chimera said.

 

“Okay, then make me stronger,” Leo said. “You’re kind of where I get all my power…”

 

“Can you endure my true strength as you are now?” Chimera asked.

 

“It’s either that or get my ass kicked,” Leo said.

 

“You may not survive the extent of my-”

 

“Look, you’re saying there’s a risk? Fine. Risks are kind of my thing,” Leo said. “This is just another pinch turned into a chance. So give me a chance. Give me your power…and I’ll give you mine.”

 

Chimera growled softly, almost like a laugh. “Very well…”

 

Chimera pounced and surged into Leo with a burst of golden light.

 

Kamen Rider Beast snapped back to reality. A new ring formed on his right hand, and he snapped the ring against his buckler.

 

The connection sparked a charge that burst with golden light and hurled the grunts away. Kamen Rider Beast climbed to his feet as his Beast Driver energized. “HYPER; AWAKEN”

 

A golden circle of magical energy formed behind Beast. The astral projection of Chimera surged through the circle and merged with Beast with a shattering of golden light.

 

KR Beast HyperHe stood in his new, blue-and-gold armored Hyper Mode.

 

The remaining Ghouls staggered backward and kept their distance.

 

Beast rolled his hands into fists. “Now that’s more like it…”

 

The Rider charged with a flurry of kicks that bashed the Ghouls off their feet. He plowed through the grunts, kicking left and right with renewed speed and energy. 

 

More Ghouls swarmed around him and swung their staffs.

 

Kamen Rider Beast armed his blaster. “Hyper Magnum!”

 

He swung his gun, parrying their blows and firing bursts of golden energy. The blasts exploded through grunts and whipped them to the ground.

 

The Rider swung his blaster wide and triggered a volley of blasts that ripped through the grunts ahead. He turned and swung wide, blasting the Ghouls that closed in from behind.

 

The grunts collapsed and exploded into bursts of flame. Beast’s buckler summoned energy circles that absorbed the explosions. The circles splashed into the Beast Driver, energizing the Rider and Phantom Demon within.

 

Kamen Rider Beast faced Spriggan. “You’re next, gorgeous.”

 

Spriggan grunted with annoyance and charged at the Rider. He held his shield forward and blocked Beast’s golden energy blasts with bursts of spark.

 

The Phantom Demon moved in close and chopped his blade. Beast dodged and snapped a kick Spriggan blocked with his shield.

 

The Rider turned and swung his blaster like a club towards the monster’s head. Spriggan blocked and slashed, but Beast dodged and spun backward.

 

The Rider fired golden energy blasts that sparked against Spriggan’s shield. The monster lowered the shield and slashed wide. Beast blocked with his blaster and kicked the monster back a step.

 

Beast extended the golden strands that hung from his forearms. The Rider spun and snapped the strands like whips. The whips thrashed Spriggan with bursts of spark that forced him several steps backward.

 

Beast lifted his gun and fired, blasting the monster with bursts of spark that tore across his armor.

 

Spriggan fired bursts of blue energy from his shoulder cannons.

 

Beast leapt against the wall to avoid the blasts, pushed off, and opened fire. His blasts exploded against the Phantom Demon and hurled him backward.

 

Spriggan crashed and rolled to his feet.

 

“Impossible…” he muttered. “How have you become this much stronger…?”

 

“A well-balanced meal,” Beast said.

 

The Rider connected his ring to his blaster. “HYPER; MAGNUM STRIKE”

 

The weapon flashed with light, and a golden magic circle formed around the barrel. Beast triggered a wave of energy shaped like Chimera, which blasted towards Spriggan.

 

The Phantom Demon lifted his shield. But the blast tore through the shield and punctured through the monster. Spriggan collapsed and exploded with bursts of flame.

 

***

 

Two Chunin kneeled before Hunter in the temple on top of the Hand skyscraper.

 

“My master…” the ninja whispered. “The Phantoms have invaded the Crimson Cells. And the Five Nails have engaged the Rangers near our boarders…”

 

Hunter knitted his brow. “The Rangers…Why would they come here…”

 

“To save you…”

 

“There’s nothing to save,” Hunter said. “Tell Death Hand and Night Stalker to flush out the cells. Kill everything.”

 

“And the Rangers…?”

 

Hunter cursed beneath his breath. He needed better fighters. Besides Death Hand, Night Stalker, and the Five Nails, he had only grunts. 

 

“I’ll handle them myself…” Hunter said.

 

***

 

Austin opened his motorcycle throttle to full and sped across a bridge. He tried to focus on the boy who needed his help. But he couldn’t help but think of Wiseman. To truly end the Phantoms, he needed to track down Wiseman, and stop him.

 

Suddenly, the teen skid his cycle to a halt when he saw Medusa standing ahead. She wore her human form and looked as cold and heartless as ever.

 

“Medusa…” Austin said as he stepped off his bike and took off his helmet. 

 

“I won’t let you pass,” Medusa said. “Wiseman demands more Phantoms...and that’s exactly what I will provide. The boy will be next.”

 

Austin slid his Flame Ring onto his left hand. “No…he won’t be.”

 

He summoned his buckler. “DRIVER ON.”

 

“Awaken.” He placed his left hand over his buckler, which pulsed with energy. He extended his left arm to his side and summoned a red magic circle. “FLAME; AWAKEN”

 

The red circle slid across his body and turned him into Kamen Rider Wizard.

 

The Rider armed his Wizard Saber and charged. Medusa spun her staff into a defensive stance.

 

Wizard swung a flurry of blows Medusa parried and dodged. Their weapons clanged and clashed with bursts of spark as they circled each other.

 

Medusa twirled her staff and bashed the Rider’s head. The blow knocked the Rider several steps backward, and he stumbled to stay on his feet.

 

Wizard slid his Flame Dragon Ring onto his left hand, and placed his left hand over his buckler. “FLAME; DRAGON”

 

The buckler emitted a red magick circle that slid across Wizard and activated his Flame Dragon form.

 

The Rider sprang forward and chopped at Medusa. The monster blocked and kicked Wizard’s gut.

 

The Rider stepped back and spun while swinging his sword wide. Medusa parried and slashed the Rider with a burst of spark.

 

Medusa’s head snakes lashed out like whips and wrapped around the Rider. The snakes squeezed tightly, pinning the Rider’s arms to his side.

 

The villain snapped her head and pulled Wizard off his feet. The snakes held him in midair and absorbed his magical energy, weakening him.

 

She whipped him over the bridge, but he grasped onto the railing to keep from falling.

 

She stalked towards him and lifted her staff, ready to stab. But a hawk familiar swopped from the air and slashed her back with a burst of spark.

 

The mini hawk fluttered around the Phantom and attacked, pecking and slashing the Phantom Demon.

 

“What…” Medusa muttered as she tried to swat the hawk away.

 

The hawk fluttered and flew through the air. Medusa watched the hawk leave — and saw Miranda walk onto the bridge.

 

“You…” Medusa said.

 

“It’s been a while…Medusa,” Miranda said.

 

“Miranda…” Medusa said as she shifted into her human form. “So you’ve come back to die?”

 

“No…” Miranda said. “I’ve come to obliterate you.”

 

Miranda lifted her shirt to reveal a Driver belt. With a magic ring on her right hand, she placed her hand over the buckler. “DRIVER ON.”

 

She slid an orange ring onto her left hand and placed the hand over her buckler. “Awaken.”

 

mage“AWAKEN; NOW” The buckler emitted a circle of orange energy that slid over her and activated the armor of Kamen Rider Mage. 

 

The Rider rolled her hands into fists. “With these hands…I’ll stop you. You, who killed my sister. My family.”

 

Medusa knitted her brow. “You’ve become a mage…?”

 

Kamen Rider Mage didn’t answer. She armed a claw-shaped fist weapon and charged.

 

The Rider clawed towards the Phantom. Medusa shifted into monster form and parried the blow.

 

The Rider pushed forward, slashing her claw and snapping a series of crescent kicks. Medusa parried and dodged each blow, but the attacks forced her backward. 

 

Medusa swung her staff towards Mage’s head. But the Rider ducked and snapped a kick Medusa blocked.

 

Mage kept her anger in check and focused it. The new Rider channeled her anger into power and pressed forward

 

Medusa twirled her staff and shifted to the offensive, slashing and stabbing at the Rider.

 

Mage hopped back to gain her distance. She placed her hand over her buckler. “CONNECT; NOW”

 

A magic circle formed to her right. She reached through the circle, pulled out her Mage Blaster, and fired bursts of fiery energy.

 

Medusa spun to dodge the bursts. The villain twirled her staff and swung, firing a bolt of shadow energy.

 

Mage dove aside while firing at the monster who killed her sister. The blasts sparked against the monster and forced her back several steps.

 

Medusa sighed with exasperation, twirled her staff into a fighting pose, and charged.

 

Mage shifted her buckler and placed her hand over its symbol. “TELEPORT; NOW”

 

Medusa swung her staff, and Mage vanished with a burst of white light.

 

Kamen Rider Mage reappeared behind Medusa and pounced with a claw swing and kick the villain blocked.

 

Medusa swung her staff, and Mage blocked. Their weapons locked, and Mage pressed herself against the monster. The Rider glared and breathed heavily, emanating with righteous anger.

 

The opponents pushed each other back.

 

Medusa snapped her head whips.

 

Mage placed her hand over her buckler. “BARRIER; NOW”

 

A magic barrier formed and blocked the tendrils, which ripped the barrier apart. The whips and barrier exploded, knocking the opponents backward.

 

Meanwhile, Kamen Rider Wizard climbed back onto the bridge. He saw Medusa spring at Mage with a flurry of staff swings and kicks.

 

Wizard charged to attack. He frontkicked the staff aside and roundkicked the Phantom’s gut, knocking her back a step.  

 

The two Riders swarmed around Medusa and took her off guard, their kicks bashing her body with powerful force.

 

The Riders snapped sidekicks that bashed the Phantom off her feet. The villain crashed and tumbled across the bridge.

 

Slowly, she pushed herself to her feet. “So…another pest to deal with.”

 

Her body burst into a pulse of shadow energy that lashed forward like snake. The shadow snapped its jaws and knocked the Riders off their feet with bursts of spark.

 

They rolled across the bridge and rose into crouched positions. When they looked up, they saw no sign of Medusa.

 

Mage breathed heavily and shook with rage.

 

Wizard looked to her and hesitated, unsure what to say. “You…He did this to you?”

 

Miranda powered down her armor with a flash of light. “The White Mage.”

 

Austin powered down his armor with a pulse of energy. “Why…?”

 

“So I could fight back. Against the Phantoms,” Miranda said.

 

“But…” Austin shook his head. “But why? First he gives me my power. Beast shows up out of nowhere…Now he makes you a Rider too? Who is he?”

 

Miranda shook her head. “I don’t know much about him either…But he did tell me this. After me, he’ll need one more mage. Then we’ll have the power to defeat all the Phantoms. Permanently.”

 

***

 

Twelve-year-old Kane Hallowell crawled across the park. Webs of shadow energy cracked along his skin and glowed with purple light. The boy slipped into despair.

 

Arachne Phantom taunted the boy, but he couldn’t hear. His mind screamed with panic and clouded all sounds. All thought.

 

Mindy…he thought of his sister but knew she wouldn’t answer. She couldn’t. The Arachne Phantom injured her when he attacked them. 

 

He remembered thinking, at the time, the Powers Rangers would save them. They did, after all, save him and his sister when caught in the middle of an attack by the Jakanja monster Toxipod more than two years ago.

 

But he never saw them again. They didn’t save his parents from the undead plague two years ago. They didn’t save him or his sister this time. She lay unconscious, near death. 

 

A burst of shadow formed a cloud of smoke nearby. Medusa walked from the shadow and smiled fiendishly.

 

“Good work, Arachne…Soon, another Phantom will be born,” she said.

 

“Medusa!” a voice shouted. Kouishiro, Maya, Jesse and Luna ran to the scene. Kouishiro knew he no longer has his powers. But he refused to sit and watch a boy die. And Maya refused to let him run off alone. 

 

The villain smiled mockingly at the powerless group. “You’re too late…” she formed a sphere of snake-like energy tendrils above her right hand. “Watch, as I blow his hope to pieces.”

 

She hurled the shadow bolt at Mindy, and the blast exploded with bursts of flame.

 

“Mindy!” Kane shouted, his voice coarse. The cracks widened and webbed across his skin, pulsing with energy.

 

“Kane!” Maya shouted as she ran to his side. “Kane, it’s going to be alright. Just…don’t look. We’re getting you out of here.”

 

The boy sobbed and rolled his hands into fists. “Mindy!”

 

Medusa laughed with evil delight. “Humans…so easy to break.”

 

The villain stopped laughing when the flames cleared. She opened her eyes wide with shock and rage — a wall stood in the center of the blast site.

 

The wall crumbled, revealing Wizard in his Land Form. He carried Mindy in his arms.

 

Maya shook Kane to get his attention. She smiled with hope. “Kane…Kane, look. It’s your sister. She’s okay!”

 

Wizard carried her to Kouishiro and the others and set her down. Luna closed her eyes and placed a hand on the girl’s chest.

 

“She’s hurt bad…but she should be okay,” Luna said. “If we can get her to a hospital.”

 

“Let’s go…” Kouishiro said.

 

“Wait…” Maya said as she took Kane by the hand. “We can’t separate them. Not yet…”

 

She took his hand and placed it in Mindy’s.

 

“Kane…” Maya said, thinking of her own brother, Simon, lost somewhere in his own darkness. Grief clenched her throat, and a tear streamed down her cheek. “It’s okay…you two are together again…nothing will keep you apart.”

 

“Min…Mindy…” he whispered as he tightened his grip.

 

Maya smiled. “That’s right.”

 

“Mindy…” Kane said. The cracks on his skin started to seal, as the hope he felt from his sister buried the Phantom Demon within his soul. He suppressed the creature completely.

 

Medusa glared at them. “Damn you…” she said. “Interfering with Wiseman’s will, yet again…”

 

Kamen Rider Wizard twirled his Wizard Saber into his hand. “I think you’d be used to it by now…”

 

Medusa shifted into her monster form and charged. Wizard returned the charge.

 

The opponents sprang at one another and clashed weapons with bursts of spark. They slashed and spun, parrying and dodging each other’s blows.

 

Arachne closed in from behind and swung his staff, slashing the Rider’s back. Wizard stumbled forward but stayed on his feet. He turned and swung wide, slashing the Phantom with a burst of spark.

 

Nearby, Miranda walked to the scene, having caught up with Wizard. She activated her belt. “DRIVER ON.”

 

“Awaken,” she said as she placed her hand over her buckler. “AWAKEN; NOW”

 

A magical circle slid over her and activated the armor of Kamen Rider Mage.

 

“It’s time to end this…”

 

She charged with a jumpkick Medusa dodged. Mage spun with a sweep kick Medusa hopped over, then swung a roundhouse kick Medusa ducked to avoid.

 

The villain swung her staff, but Mage ducked and snapped a roundkick Medusa blocked. The opponents exchanged fierce blows as they circled around each other.

 

The Rider launched a series of spinning crescent kicks that forced Medusa backward.

 

The villain spun with a wide swing, but Mage caught the staff. Medusa leaned in, grabbed the Rider and tossed her aside.

 

“You’re a persistent one…” Medusa said as she twirled her staff. “How about a change in scenery?”

 

She chopped her staff against the ground, which tore apart with a shockwave of shadow energy. The wave blasted past Mage and Wizard, as well as Kouishiro, Maya, Jesse, Luna, Kane and Mindy. The ground started to collapse beneath them.

 

Wizard shifted his Driver and placed his hand over his buckler. “GRAVITY; AWAKEN”

 

Yellow magic circles formed in midair as the ground crumbled. The cave-in collapsed into an abandoned tunnel hidden beneath the park.

 

Wizard and Mage hit the floor hard. Wizard’s magic circles set the civilians inside the tunnel, safely, a few meters back.

 

Wizard sighed with relief when he saw them take cover behind several barrels.

 

Nearby, Medusa and Mage continued their battle. They clashed, weapons sparking against each other.

 

Mage moved in close and clawed Medusa’s chest with bursts of spark. Medusa stood her ground and swung her staff, bashing the Rider’s chest with a burst of spark and forcing her backward.

 

The Arachne Phantom charged towards Wizard. The Rider dodged and slashed wide, striking the monster with a burst of spark.

 

The Rider leapt against the wall, pushed off, and sprang towards Arachne with a sword swing. The Phantom parried and kicked the Rider’s head.

 

The blow knocked the Rider several steps backward. Arachne charged and slashed towards the Rider’s legs. But Wizard hopped over the blow.

 

The Rider swung his blade through a butterfly pattern Arachne blocked. The Phantom countered with staff slashes that sparked against Wizard’s armor.

 

Arachne kicked Wizard’s chest, knocking him back several steps.

 

The Rider slid his Land Dragon Ring onto his left hand and shifted his buckler. He placed his hand over the buckler, which pulsed with yellow energy. “LAND; DRAGON.”

 

Wizard shifted into Land Dragon form and charged at Arachne. The Rider swung his blade through wide and powerful arcs the monster parried and dodged.

 

Nearby, Kamen Rider Mage swung her claw at Medusa. But the novice Rider couldn’t break past the monster’s defenses. Medusa blocked and parried the blows, which became more haphazard and desperate. 

 

Medusa spun forward and reverse sidekicked Mage, bashing her off her feet. The Rider slammed against a wall and crashed to the floor.

 

Medusa charged to attack.

 

But Mage sprang to her feet and somersaulted through the air over Medusa. The Rider landed on a thick pipe on the opposite side of the wall.

 

She armed her blaster and fired orange bursts of energy at the Phantom who killed her family. The monster twirled her staff and deflected the blasts with bursts of spark.

 

Medusa swatted the blasts aside, and then swung her staff wide. The weapon fired a shadow bolt that blasted Mage off the pipe with massive bursts of spark.

 

Nearby, Wizard used both hands to swing his sword. The weapon chopped through Arachne with bursts of spark, hurling him backward.

 

The monster started to dive into the ground to escape. But Wizard armed his Big Ring and placed his hand over his buckler. “BIG; AWAKEN”

 

A yellow magic circle formed in front of him. He thrust his arm through the circle; his arm enlarged, grabbed Arachne, and hurled him backward.

 

The Phantom crashed, rolled across the floor and stumbled to his feet.

 

Wizard armed his Equip Ring and placed his hand over his buckler. “EQUIP; DRAGO CLAWS”

 

He armed claw-shaped fist weapons that radiated with fiery energy. He swung the claws, which fired waves of flame.

 

The waves blasted through the monster with bursts of spark. Secondary explosions tore through the Phantom, and he exploded with a burst of flame.

 

Meanwhile, Medusa twirled her staff and slashed Mage to the ground.

 

The Phantom lifted her staff and stalked towards the fallen Rider. “You wanted this to come to an end? As you wish…”

 

Mage stumbled to her feet and breathed heavily. She summoned enough strength to leap forward with a flying jumpkick that bashed Medusa backward. The Phantom crashed against the ground and tumbled aside.

 

Mage landed and slid a white-gemmed ring onto her right hand. “You don’t get to decide how this ends…I do.”

 

She placed her hand over her buckler. “HOLY; NOW”

 

Her ring glowed with holy energy and magical runes. The Rider thrust her hand and fired a stream of holy energy.

 

Medusa thrust her staff and fired a stream of shadow energy.

 

The streams collided and pushed against each other. Holy and shadow energy snapped and thrashed the tunnel with bursts of spark as the streams intensified.

 

Mage leaned forward and poured on the power. “Mother…father…Lisa…”

 

The memories of her loved ones gave her strength. And she used that strength to feed the holy energy of her ring.

 

Her power beam intensified and pushed the shadow beam backward, inch by inch. Mage opened her palm wide; her blast pulsed through the shadow beam and exploded against Medusa with massive bursts of light and spark.

 

The shockwave blasted the opponents off their feet.

 

Mage crashed against the ground and tumbled aside. The impact knocked her from her armor. She struggled to catch her breath as fatigue burned through her muscles.

 

“It’s…It’s over,” she whispered.

 

“Not yet…” Medusa said as she staggered to her feet. The Phantom stumbled and nearly fell. But she stayed standing, despite her injuries. “I won’t die here…I won’t…”

 

The monster formed tendrils of shadow energy in her palm. She limped forward to attack.

 

Suddenly, a blade punctured through her gut from behind. The monster gasped with pain and shock as she stared at the blade, which retracted.

 

Medusa turned, slowly, to face Wiseman. She shifted into her human form. “Wiseman…?”

 

Nearby, Austin ran to Miranda’s side and helped her sit up. He spotted Wiseman and glared.

 

“It’s him…” he said.

 

“Wiseman…” Medusa said as she grasped her injured gut. “Why…?”

 

“I need that mage,” Wiseman said.

 

Medusa stumbled and nearly collapsed, but she leaned against the wall for support. She breathed heavily, in a pained panic. “But why…You said…You said you needed me…”

 

“I did…” Wiseman said. “I needed you to find the Gates. But now…the last mage has been born. And I need you no longer.”

 

Wiseman stared down the tunnel, to where Kouishiro and the others hid with Kane. The villain glowed with purple energy and shifted into a different form — the form of the White Mage.

 

Medusa opened her eyes wide with panic. She staggered towards the White Mage and held out her hand, pleading.

 

“Wiseman…Wiseman is a…a mage…?” she said, her breath raspy and weak. “Then…you’ve been lying to me this whole time?!”

 

She stumbled forward and grasped the White Mage’s robes.

 

“No…no!” she shouted as she dropped to her knees. “Tell me this isn’t true…that this is a trick!”

 

“Thank you for all of your work,” the White Mage said. “Medusa…”

 

Cracks formed through Medusa’s skin, and the cracks peeled away, shedding the Phantom apart as her injuries consumed her. 

 

“Wiseman…” Medusa whispered, her eyes filled with agony and grief.

 

A final burst of pain tore through her body. Her eyes opened wide with a silent scream, and she burst into ash.

 

The White Mage stood still.

 

Austin stood and rolled his hands into fists. He shook his head with disbelief. “You’re a Phantom…”

 

The White Mage shifted his Driver. He placed his hand over his buckler. “TELEPORT; NOW”

 

A magic circle formed above the White Mage and slid downward, teleporting him closer to Kouishiro and the others.

 

He pointed at Kane and stalked towards him. “You’ve earned the right to become a mage…Come with me…”

 

Kane shook his head and cowered backward. “Leave…Leave me alone!”

 

Kouishiro stood protectively in front of the boy. “Stay back.”

 

“Do not fight fate,” the White Mage said as he slid a ring onto his hand. He placed his hand over his buckler. “CHAIN; NOW”

 

A chain wrapped around Kane and dropped him to the ground.

 

Austin narrowed his eyes and charged at the White Mage. The teen activated his Driver.

 

The White Mage turned and summoned a magic circle. Chains snapped from the circle and whipped the teen across the tunnel.

 

The villain armed another ring and placed his hand over his Driver. “TELEPORT; NOW”

 

Magic circles formed above the White Mage Miranda, Kane and Luna. The circles slid downward, teleporting them away with bursts of white light.

 

***

 

Luna dropped into a dark room. A pulse of white light flashed to her side, and the White Mage stepped through a magic circle.

 

The villain placed his hand over his buckler, and a circle of magic energy slid over him, powering down his armor. He stood in his human form. He appeared as an Asian man with hardened features.

 

Luna opened her eyes wide with fear and backed away. “Who are you…?”

 

He looked at her and said nothing.

 

Luna shook her head. “Who?!”

 

“Such a quiet girl,” the man said. “Easily forgotten…and the key to everything. The key to the Second Seal.”

 

“The Seal…?” Luna asked.

 

“I am Rahvin,” the man said. “Your people call me Forsaken.”

 

To be continued…Chapter 48