The assassins fighting Anukh melted away instantly - illusions conjured to take up her time. From above them the Nobu pounced - one sword impaling itself upon the ground exactly at the spot where, only moments before, Warren had been standing.
Both Callie and Warren found themselves behind Anukh, who had taken the form of a girl again.
"Wiry little foxes, aren't they?" she said, lips pursed. "Their abilities are about the same level as mine."
Warren paled. Anukh was the most powerful creature he had ever summoned. "What are our odds of winning?" he asked, eyeing the approaching five warily.
Calypso released Vera and he sprouted claws. "Take those helmets off." she commanded. "Long distance."
Vera nodded and carved a symbol on the floor with a single claw. Calypso took a look at it and pulled out a card from a pocket.
"Together?" Vera asked.
Warren turned in time to see Vera thrusting his right fist into the stone, smashing it and the sign; and Callie tearing the card with deliberate slowness.
A wind picked up in the hall, thrumming with the force of magic. The five assassins stopped their approach as a polar bear materialized before them - closing one eye it waved a paw in their vague direction. Five bolts of light streaked out and smashed into their helmets.
Silence as the helmets cracked and fell from the assassins. The bear gave a cheery wave and vanished.
"Those were supposedly magic-proof." the leader - a girl - spoke. She raised her hand and a scythe was suddenly in it. "That wasn't a bad show of magic at all. Pity, pity."
Warren studied them for a moment. The girl was the one who seemed to lead - indeed, there were dark green stripes over her suit to announce rank of some sort.
"What are you after? This place is nothing but a school." Calypso asked, biding time. The summoning of Ursa Minor had taken a considerable amount of mana on her part, and Warren knew from personal experience that she was feeling slightly light-headed at the moment.
The Nobu girl took pleasure in answering: "Oh, you don't know? - she twirled the scythe absent-mindedly, "Your resident seal. The Janus."
"What is she talking about?" Warren whispered.
"No idea," Anukh replied, and then a little louder: "What are you talking about?"
The girl looked genuinely surprised. "You mean you don't know?"
Warren shrugged. "We Magisters have never heard of a seal here at the Academy before." He paused, staring straight ahead as he flipped through his summoning cards, looking for an Ursa Major he had filched some time ago. "I thought the nearest one was in the Mokt shrine?"
"How naive - you people who live in this sch-"
Warren never heard her finish the sentence, for at that precise moment Wayne Rye and his patrol group burst into the hall. This arrival was made more pronounced by the amount of spells and familiars thrown at the Nobu.
"NO!" Warren shouted, but it was already too late: with a flash illusions of the assassins appeared; a boy was killing off familiars with lightning blasts and the girl was spinning the scythe.
Anukh turned to Warren and noticed the Ursa Major card he was holding. Their eyes met for the briefest of instances; both immediately knowing what had to be done.
She drew a sign in the air, and it hovered there for a moment - a sickly burning rune. One of the Nobu leapt at her with teeth drawn but Vera quickly killed him, tossing him aside.
"When will you magisters ever stop?" The girl snarled. Wayne Rye fell, a katana through his chest. Warren nearly lost his focus as he saw the pool of blood forming around his former colleague.
He dragged his thoughts back, ripping the card into two as Anukh called out the summons.
The effect was immediate - the temperature of the room plummeted and a cold picked up.
Down and down it plunged, stopping the Nobu from continuing their attacks. Not that it mattered now - most of the patrol were dead or dying, with a few frail groans puncturing the howling of the wind.
"What - ?" it was the girl, confusion and anger in her voice. The boy raised his hands and an arc of lightning raced through the air towards them -
It hit a barrier Vera threw up.
"You will never succeed!" Warren yelled. "Seal or no seal!"
The drama was interrupted for a moment when the main courtyard doors were thrown open and Yuki dashed through. Everyone followed his progress as he ran to another door, opened it and vanished from view.
"Where were you again?" asked the Nobu girl sweetly.
This time Warren didn't have to reply. The stone slabs in front of him cracked and rose, being thrown apart by a huge bear the size of a small car. It growled, rattling the windows and shaking the pillars.
"Ooh." said the girl. The scythe in her hand doubled in size.