Exceptional P2TM RP Posts

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Founded: Jan 01, 2014
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Exceptional P2TM RP Posts

Postby P2TM » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:37 pm


Found an utterly exceptional and amazingly written IC post in an RP? Quote it and put it here. It can be funny, heartwarming, tear-jerking, action-packed, whatever. You can give some explanation of the story leading up to the post, or offer some comments as to why you think it's exceptional. Don't quote your own posts, that's just bad form. And go ahead and tell people when they've been quoted.

What makes a post exceptional? It isn't length. Some of the best posts have been short. The quoted posts should have good grammar, and the writer has made some effort to spell-check. Dialog is woven into the moment rather than a character's words marked by a different colored or bolded font. It isn't a text wall - there are lines between paragraphs and dialog.

We may run a quarterly contest in the near-future. This would be a good spot to keep track of posts you'd like to nominate.


Warpspace wrote:Thunderous drums carried through the ancient Saxon thicket as iron-clad hooves pounded the forgotten Roman road into submission- the chase was on. Two destriers -monstrous mounts of war bred to bear their noble lords into the fray with the greatest force possible- tore through the underbrush with violent force as they galloped on. Muscles visibly rippled under their thinly furred hide as their legs hammered away at root, stone, and brush with equal ferocity; primordial timber groaning in protest in their forgotten tongue as the two beasts trod upon their roots with abandon. The two steeds held opposed goals in their hearts- a great black stallion bore its knightly master down upon his traitorous quarry while a dappled mare sought to bring her hounded master to safety thanks to the stirrups embedded in her flesh. Both were flowers of nobility stemmed from peerless domestic mastery over the Equus genus. Both were paid for by a handsome ransom fit for the life of a Knight.

And both were fated to brutally die in mere seconds.

Lord Baldwin finally came to the grim realization- he wasn't escaping his pursuer. The game was up, and while he could potentially push his steed a little further, the mare would soon collapse from exhaustion. The berserk Knight had cut off his attempt to flee his besieged keep and hounded his Lordship in dogged pursuit for several hours now. There was no escape to be had, Baldwin's stamina had been claimed by advancement into middle age and now he was hemmed in by his own lack of the quality. His Lordship gritted his teeth behind his embossed conical helmet and tightened the grip on his lance; either he was to be cut down like an exhausted Deer in the hunt or stand like a cornered Boar, and he had no attention to be labeled a coward.

His Lordship spun his horse about to face the direction of his pursuer and charged... and that was when he broke through the brush bordering the old Roman road. The Knight exploded from the foliage, bearing down on his quarry with limitless fury; the Norman Knight failing to even note his prey's sudden act of bravery. Both parties leveled their lances and began the final charge, their steeds thundering across the ancient paved road as they sought to spear the other through the heart. Both Nobles were skilled in the art of equine mastery, trained from their youth to fight in this very exact manner. At the last possible second both riders jinked in opposite directions, twisting barely an inch out of the reach of their lances. Failing to strike their intended target both men instinctively lowered their lances and instead tore into their opposing mounts. The massive wooden pikes performed their lethal art well, steel tipped heads tore into horse-flesh and shredded both muscle and organ, the fine dagger-blades cutting deep into the pelvis and spines of both destriers. Both lances then shattered- showering the Nobles in splinters of wood while internally the Ash shafts exploded from kinetic force and perforated the organs of each loyal steed.

Wracked by pain, both destriers crumbled to the old cobbled road and pitched their riders into the forest floor. The Knight, spry from relative youth compared to the Lord, recovered swiftly and rolled with the fall to avoid injury. The aging Lord Baldwin was less fortunate- a sickening crunch was audible both to the Knight and the pair of gurgling horses as his ankle twisted at a painful angle. Still, a testament to the Lordship's strength of will, the old man fought through the pain and stood upon the contorted foot to face his foe as a man. Wrenching himself fully erect in noble stature, Baldwin drew his sword and gestured for parlay from his assailant.

"Why this lust for my destruction? Why must you dog my every move since attempting to seek solace in my estate? My head will bring you little reward when my ransom will grant you vast riches. I can surrender Wards from my estate, replace your destrier with a breeding pair, even commission my household blacksmith to fashion you a wondrous prosthetic. Yes, I know who you are Sir Knight. Sir Gefrei de Bataille, owner of the fortress in Ivry, a veteran of the wars in Italy. You are lauded as a man of Chivalry, a noble man burdened by a heavy past. Will you not see reason? Will you not spare me as a man of God? I have done no harm upon you Sir Knight, and more than grateful to forgive this transgression. Please, I beg of the, see reason!"

Sir Gefrei de Bataille stood motionless for a full minute with the moonlit Roman road behind him, contemplating the Nobleman's words. His response decided, Gefrei marched several paces forward, speaking as he prepared to set upon Lord Baldwin with every intent of slaying him.

"A man of God? You call yourself such after the actions in Winchester? You may have forgotten your misdeeds Baldwin, but I have not; not until I can hear your screams in the eternal flames below as you pay for your crimes upon this Earth. You are a traitor to your true Queen and a murderer Baldwin, and while these unholy crimes may have slipped your mind as you grew fat on venison of the false-king and drunk from ale, you must be sent to the Divine court to answer for them. The Siege Baldwin, do you remember? Not this one old man, but the fall of Winchester to your bastard King's forces. I remember it because the sight is burned into my memory. Along with thirty men you took prisoner during the siege of Winchester, you captured one who was but a young lad. Innocent, his hands had yet to be stained with the blood of any man. My squire. My cousin. MY WARD. WHO YOU THEN CUT DOWN LIKE A DOG WITH THE REST OF THE PRISONERS SEIZED FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE THAN TO DEMORALIZE THE GARRISON. REASON? REASON WAS GONE THE DAY YOU TOOK THAT PATH. THAT BOY WAS GOING TO BE MY HEIR UNLESS MY WIFE BEARS ME A SON. FOR AS MUCH AS I WILL EVER CARE, THAT BOY, WILHELM, WAS MY SON. ONLY GOD CAN DELIVER THE RIGHTEOUS PUNISHMENT YOU DESERVE WORM, AND I HAVE EVERY INTENTION OF ARRANGING SUCH A MEETING! DEUS VULT!"

Gefrei bellowed out a feverish cry of war before throwing himself upon the cowardly nobleman with complete abandon. Baldwin was immediately overwhelmed, the old man utterly lacking any ability to counter the unrestrained fury of a man nearly two decades younger hellbent on caving in his face. Gefrei paid no attention to any defensive strategy, trusting his hauberk and Italo helm for protection as he hammered his kite shield into the old man's body and throwing the lord off balance. Baldwin however was also clothed in the same quality of armor, any assault by a blade would do little to their armor and utterly fail to land lethal wounds upon their flesh. It was only as Gefrei hammered the extended quillons of his broadsword into Baldwin's spangenhelm that his lordship realized the Knight's plan of attack.

Momentarily stunned from the light concussion sustained, Baldwin stumbled several more paces back as he attempted to gather his wits and stop his head from spinning. Gefrei held no intent to allow this, and charged at the puffed up nobleman again. Gripping his sword by the blade in his left hand, Gefrei twirled the sword to gain more concussive force before bringing the crossguard on the lord's helmet once more. And again. And again. By the fifth strike a visible dent had formed in Baldwin's nasal helmet; by the sixth an audible crack was heard as a hairline fracture was formed in Baldwin's skull as his own helmet was driven like a wedge between the bone plates. Blood welled up in the man's skull and leaked out from the helmet, spilling across his coif as the old fool collapsed against a nearby tree. Delirious from fear, Baldwin futilely tried to push the Knight away from his person with weakening limbs, resistance Gefrei casually powered through. Swiftly dropping his sword and drawing a dagger in what seemed to be a single, fluid motion, Gefrei struck the killing blow. Through watering, clouding eyes Baldwin looked down to see a dagger rammed down to the hilt sticking from his jugular as ichor gushed from his rent neck.

Desperately clinging on to life, the dying man clutched at his neck to close the wound in vain as his arteries spurt blood and lost pressure. His circulatory system began to fail entirely as blood ceased to travel to his brain and instead gushed across his chest and stained the ground. In his final seconds of consciousness Baldwin stared at Gefrei's primitive enclosed helmet and looked at its details through swiftly blurring eyes. A crown of metal thorns wreathed it like a crown while over the location of the mouth, the leering teeth of a skull were etched into the steel. But what caught his attention in the final second of conscious life were the eyes. Peering through the small curved slots in the face-plate were brown human eyes, glaring at Baldwin with the utmost contempt for his life. His last thought before slipping away into unconsciousness and hastily following death was just how much anger the copper orbs seemed to convey.

Gefrei tore his gaze from the bleeding corpse, content with having seen the life drain from the old man's eyes. He had claimed vengeance for his slain ward. The anger and lust for revenge he had bottled up was finally released and would trouble his choler no longer. The Knight could finally live in peace having avenged his fallen squire- return to his wife and soon-to-be-born child in Normandy. While he may yet stay in the fight for a few years longer out of loyalty to the rightful heir to the throne of England, he felt that he had earned at least some retirement from the field for now. His main motivation to stay in the fight was finished now with the death of Baldwin. Yes. Now was the time to live in happiness and revel in the glorious future that awaited the gestating Angevin Empire. Gefrei turned back to face the slumping corpse of the dead lord, deciding there was a final act to be done.

"Requiescat in pace, Wilhelm. You are avenged." Gefrei spoke in a hushed voice as he performed one final act of humiliation upon his lordship. Kicking the corpse to lie prone upon the forest floor in a pool of its cooling blood, Gefrei rammed his sword through the corpse's mouth and draped a crucifix necklace. It felt fitting to both slay and deface Wilhelm's killer with the sword he had intended to use to knight the lad upon reaching his nineteenth birthday.

The Knight turned to the two crumpled mounts on the ancient road and sighed. Destriers were ludicrously expensive, a single horse of their breeding would cost enough money to buy a thousand heads of sheep- to replace his mount would bite into his coffers. Worse yet he had chased after Baldwin alone and without a palfrey in tow, meaning he now had to walk back to the Angevin Camp.


Thankfully the old road was illuminated by moonlight and the light of the galaxy itself, creating what appeared to be an almost heavenly path as the silver light of space bounced off the cobblestone. The weather was also well suited to a long march in heavy, insulated armor that would make such a trip in the heat outright hellish. Hours passed as the lone Knight marched down the ancient road and began to tire. His shoes were simply pathetic in structure and little more than leather socks tied to his feet; debris on the road poked into the soles and rubbed painfully against his feet with each step taken. His energy was already drained by the several hour chase on horseback, the short but violent duel, and finally wandering in the late evening on this ill-maintained road. The forest flanking the cobblestone road looked so pleasant now, offering banks of moss to retire upon with mild comfort.

Longing for some well-deserved rest, the Knight abandoned the cobbled moonlit path and wandered into the forest; seeking a bed of moss to lay his heavy head upon. The further he wandered into the forest, the stranger the woods seemed. Gnarled trunks twisted upwards from the forest floor painted in the rusted shades of Autumn- seeming to groan in protest of his passing. Gefrei shook off the strange noises similar to the creaking of oak and ash floorboards as merely the wind tugging the old flora against their roots. It was nothing to be concerned about- to be anxious over such minor oddities was a waste of energy that would only further tire him.

Finally after nearly twenty minutes of aimless exploration, Gefrei spied a pleasant spot to rest on. An old tree sat in the center of a modest clearing, encrusted in lichen with roots draped in a sea of moss and ferns. Not even bothering to shed his helm, let alone his armor, the Knight collapsed in a corner formed by two great roots splitting the ground under them and rising up to form small walls. Gefrei's eyes grey heavy immediately upon relaxing into the natural bedding. He only bothered to remove the buckles that held the sanguine robe gifted to him by Roger of Sicily's house to his neck. Using it as a blanket, he tucked it around his armor to preserve warmth in what would be a cold British night.

The knight drifted off to sleep, slipping away into fantasies of killer rabbits and besieging Jerusalem on pegasi- ignorant of the world around him. As he slumbered Gefrei ceased to age with the world around him; forgotten by his people as his body grew covered by the overgrowth of surrounding plants. Roots twisted about his body as the years passed as bushes sprouted and wilted with the passing seasons. Over decades planets grew, died, and decomposed, leaving Gefrei buried under an increasing pile of dirt. Centuries past and the days of his status as a knight waxed and waned into oblivion with the invention of full plate armor and the subsequent spread of gunpowder. His wife was long dead, his castle had passed through countless hands of ownership until it too was forgotten, and Sir Gefrei de Bataille’s very existence was soon forgotten. Later aircraft would dance upon the wings of Mercury in the skies of Britain a full seven hundred and ninety-three years after his death; sundered German bombers screaming down into the channel as the canons of Spitfires unleashed righteous English fury.

But he was oblivious to it all. The wars, the kings, even his own legacy being swiftly ground to dust by entropy. Still sleeping in that ancient Saxon forrest, Gefrei was ignorant of all the world’s happenings. Buried under the ancient Oak tree he sought shelter under, the Knight was not even there for the mutually lethal birth of his stillborn son.

Eight Hundred and Sixty-Eight Years Later

It was the crack of dawn. Swallows fluttered through the air in flocks, chirping as they jumped between the trees in flight. The heavenly rays of Sol cracked over the eastern horizon,their slow rise was upon the western world as they left the east in shadow. The forests in the outskirts of Bielefeld were stirring from their rest, or what they had attempted to achieve during the previous day’s and night’s events. Nocturnal predators sulked through the undergrowth, seeking a peaceful den for retreat until the next night. Worms poked their indistinguishable heads from the surface of the dirt as they were naturally drawn to the dew coating blades of grass and moss.

A thick hiking-boot soon crushed the aspirations for the day (if non-sentient invertebrates could have aspirations) of an unlucky worm. The black leather and rubber footwear mashed the miserable invertebrate into paste before picking up and taking another step, ruining the existence of some insufferable insect. Its owner, a gardener, was blissfully ignorant of the life he ended with each step- although he likely would have done so anyway if conscious of his actions out of spite. They were good for the health of his plants- but in his opinion the gardener preferred everything spotless of life the squeamish might find objectionable- specifically in this plot of land.

Risen early to maximize the cool hours of the morning (and shake the memory of some rather embarrassing actions he had woken to find himself involved in), the man had called to find one of his menial laborers having similar thoughts. This was not the exclusive source of the gardeners motivation however, in truth his desire to get to work early was the object said work involved. It was a tree. Not just any tree, but an ancient great Oak plucked from a forest in Britain that sprouted in the days before Christ. While the gardener was not a religious man, the sheer age of the tree made it a relic of history in his eyes. The aging man stared at the great gnarled thing with watery eyes upon entering the workplace; it was a gift to do this job. He was grateful for such an opportunity to be passed his way by the mysterious benefactor of this plant “museum” being assembled on the edge of Bielefeld- who, come to think of it, had never spoken to the gardener outside of physical letter.

Then the gardener remembered the events of last night and the “colorful” characters who inhabited this city and honestly. In comparison your boss communicating with your purely through hand-written letters dumped in your mailbox wasn’t even the tenth strangest thing to happen in this odd place. Forgetting the observation, the gardener took his eyes off the Oak tree suspended in the air from a great crane and waved at the driver. Spotting the signal from his boss, the menial wrenched one of the levers in the crane’s cab- sending the oak tree plummeting into the ground and the holes excavated for its roots. The gardener cringed in sympathetic pain as he witnessed the ancient tree crash into the ground without grace or control, potentially risking the death of the oak itself. Fuming at the menial’s apathetic incompetence, the gardener rolled up his sleeves and marched over to the crane’s cabin to give the cheap labor a lengthy monologue on the subject of his stupidity. When passing the dropped Oak the gardener tripped however- his balance lost on some infernal root and leading to his face becoming embedded in the muddy ground.

Changing his opinion of the ancient tree in the instant he blamed it for his fall, the Gardener’s monologue of curses switched targets from the menial to the oak. If this was a sign of how the rest of the day was going to unfold he was going to run up an enormous tab at the local pub. Continuing to curse, the gardener rolled his face out of the mud and pivoted on his hip to see what in the seven rings of hell had arrested his motion and sent him tumbling into the muck. The action was pointless though- he knew very well it was a root that had tripped him. Or at least the gardener was confident in that sentiment until he saw the true cause; his blood chilling at the sight. It wasn’t frightening in the same sense as the “abbies” that roamed around this city, but it was wrong. Out of place, too perfectly preserved to be natural.

Punching through the mud and roots was a single perfectly preserved steel gauntlet, its fingers wrapped tightly around the gardener’s leg. While a historical piece of armor may not be entirely unusual to be found wrapped up in the matter of a plant so ancient… one of this perfect quality was wholly unnatural. It looked unblemished by entropic forces of time- free of any rust or weathering. In fact it looked like it had been maintained by an artificer for how many centuries it was entombed by the oak tree, the only flaw was caked mud from the surrounding dirt pit. He could have kept his senses at this point and waved it off as some unnatural, but not unfathomable preserved corpse of an old knight, at least until the arm twitched and began to move. A left arm ripped from the mud and began to carve away that kept its owner trapped underground, the gardener looking on in shock as a man hauled himself out of the ground.

Dirt and blobs of mud sloughed from the man’s armor as he wrestled himself from the ground. Beneath a phrygian conical helmet, the man gasped for air while audibly spitting muck from his mouth against the liner of his helmet’s faceplate. The knight of yore stood tall for only a brief period after wrenching himself from the earth- falling to his knees in exhaustion in a metallic chime as maille links jingled like bells from the impact. This mysterious man risen from the ground was wholly ignorant of the gardener’s existence for the time being; he was consumed with the basal functions of life as his brain demanded oxygen from his stasis. Only after taking numerous great gulps of air did the knight turn to see the aging gardener sprawled across the ground before him- eyes still wide in shock. Realizing the strange knight was not gazing upon him, the gardener scrambled backwards from his position in fear, unsure of the stranger’s intentions. The knight however had no intention of malice, but his advance looked frightening irregardless due to the nature of his armor. His helmet was phrygian in fashion, meaning its top curved forward and due to personal adornment, was topped with a “topknot” made of horsehair. Spikes ran about the crown of the helm to signify his christian piety and the forging process of the face-guard left indentations that could be mistaken for a skull’s leer. Understandably all these elements factored together could pose quite a horrifying sight for a startled man on the edge of hysteria.

Sensing the man’s fear from his own experience in war, the knight removed his leather-maille gauntlets and let them hang from the ties that affixed them to the armor on his forearm; holding bare hands to calm him. The knight repeated the word “Pes” to the startled gardener, unfortunately unaware that the early Anglo-Norman french language was all but extinct- the only true remnant spoken by a small population in modern Normandy. But the accent and the word sounded close enough to Pais, which was something the gardener understood from french lessons taken in childhood. Recovering from his state of terror, the gardener stuttered “Oui” multiple times in response as he picked himself up from the mud.

The apparently Norman Knight began to babble in his forgotten tongue, mistaking the gardener’s response for affirmation of his understanding (Oui sounding terribly similar to his word for yes) and thus allowing for a discussion to be held. The gardener shook his head the knight continued to talk, attempting to convey his ignorance of what the medieval man spoke of. The point eventually was delivered by sign-language, and the knight shook his helm bearing head in frustration. He tried the filthy tongue of the Saxons and even the little Italian he knew to no avail. Furious at this language barrier he had stumbled into during his great slumber, a lightbulb went off and the Norman immediately grabbed the shoulders of the gardener, fervently repeating a single phrase.

Anno Domini!”
Greater Istanistan wrote:The guttering lights of a thousand burning metropoli illuminated Earth. In Vancouver, Husks picked over the corpses of civilians. Streams of refugees fled the ruins of their once-normal lives, clutching whatever personal possessions they could take as their rank tides emptied out into the wastelands. Many would starve. Many more would die. Such was the order of things. It could not be explained. It could not be changed. It could only be accepted - that things would never be the same. Nobody could change it. There was no fighting it. There was no reasoning with it. The human spirit - a joke! A sham! It had fallen apart once the pathetic masses had realized that there was no weapon they had, no hero they praised, and no god they worshipped that would intervene to protect them when they got a whiff of real power. A power that needed no explanation, that brooked no dissent, that cared not for the beggings, pleadings, and petty defiances of the tiny beings below them. The humans had fought, throwing their wondrous armaments and dreadnoughts as large as cities at the invaders. But what was human science to beings which thought on a plane beyond anything that any human save Lovecraft could comprehend, who had outlived suns and were ancient, ancient as the days while humans were still living in caves and shitting in the dirt? Nothing. Sand. Ash. Dust in the wind. Humanity had been arrogant, thinking itself special within the cosmic order, thinking its perspective important.

Foolishness. They had been, in a matter of hours, humbled to a degree which had not been seen before. Abased. Shown the futility of their own existences, the worthlessness of their toil towards some half-imagined utopia. What rubbish. What idiocy. They would live. They would die. It had always been so. It would always be so. For the entities that passed aeons slumbering in the dark, that harnessed unholy science and power beyond comparison as a matter of fact, the lives of humans meant nothing.

In the fetid clouds above, rank with the sickly-sweet smell of roasting flesh and broken arrogance, gods moved.

With the coming of the Reapers, Earth had burned. In the first fifty minutes of the assault, almost a billion people had been wiped out. In the weeks to follow, billions more would follow them in their return to dust.


The First walked the ruins, an eye-aching canker on the face of reality which warped the universe itself as it moved. Wan fires of annihilation flickered across its skeletal frame, and a horrific jagged-toothed grin split the infinite fractal madness that one might call a face. It was humanoid, roughly nine feet tall. At the edges of Its being it rippled and flickered, as if it was forcing itself into three-dimensional form through the power of its infinite will alone. Ahead of it lay some famous structure - it honestly couldn't care what the biological garbage that built this shit hole of a city called it. Street lights, sensing the artificial night made by the billowing spirals of smoke, guttered in the half-dark. The First shone. Like a dead star, it shone in the midst of the twilight of Man.

It cocked its head. Something was moving. It sensed a threat. As it turned the blazing pits of its eyes left and right, searching in dimensions undiscovered by any species for over three hundred thousand years, it felt a shift in the air currents. How curious. It turned its face, and promptly caught a sniper round in the middle of its forehead.

For a moment it flickered, and then grinned.

"Well well, lookie here Johnny boy", it spat in words that curdled the atmosphere around it, "somebody thinks they're special."

And in a moment, it... folded, for a lack of a better word, and was in front of an extremely befuddled SAS operative clutching an absurdly customized rifle.

"Oh my, what a bad boy you are! You think you're so very very unique, don't you?", the First declaimed as its lighting-veiled fist smashed through the man's helmet at something past the speed of sound and sank into the unfortunate man's brain. The sniper began twitching madly as the First tilted its head.

"Coates", it drawled. "Cccooooaaaaatttteeeeessssss. Maaaaaaajjjjjorrr Ccooooaaatttteeesssss..... Neeed Coates. Ned Coates. Wow. Real home-grown hero here, aren't you? You think you're hot shit, don't you Coates? You're the best of the best of the SAS, ain't that something? Think you're one of the best in the whole damn galaxy at killing people in cowardly ways. Well. Way things are going, that's getting a fair bit easier, innit?"

Coates foamed at the mouth in response and rolled his eyes back into his head. Having a pseudo-physical fist rammed into your brain by a demigod tends to do that.

The First grinned its papercut smile. "Well sorry Ned old chap, but I'm in a bit of a tizzy at the moment. This is a pretty neat body, innit, but the problem is Neddy boyy that I can't keep it up for long. You see, I've got a redhead to kill and so I'll have to stick around for a bit. So I'll have to borrow you from you for a bit. Maybe I'll give you back to you when I'm done with you, hehehe, so that you can see me strangle the hero of your worthless little species to death in front of you. OK, mister Coates?"

Coates foamed some more, choked, and released his bowels into his pants.

The First grinned.

"Oh don't feel so very bad about this, Coatsey. Because you'll get to be me for a bit. Meeee. The First. The very First. Four-eyed fuckwads didn't get one - we'd been working them for ages - but your lot definitely do. Otherwise, how do we kill off your great big hero that you put in jail for annoying Harby? You'll be a host to the one that ends your race and teaches it a lesson, oh Neddy boy. You'll be the face of the Herald of Despair. When soldiers die, they'll curse your face. When children starve, it'll be your body that they remember because of it. When people see what we've done to their pretty little planet and realize they're never getting it back, it'll be you that they'll blame. When I kill their heroes, you'll be the traitorous bastard what done it. Because the Masters - the great big god-machines, the Inevitable Ones, the Head Honchos, the Big Kahunas, call them what you will - are pretty darn effective, but they lack a personal touch. You'll be me. And I'll be that. Ready?"

The First folded. Major Ned Coates of the SAS screamed. Even as his personality was annihilated and his individuality chased back into a small dark corner of his own mind, he had the bizarre feeling that there was something wrong about this. Very wrong. He wasn't supposed to DIE now. Not yet. Not yet. He hadn't met Shepard - wasn't he supposed to do that? Why would he even think that?

After that, Ned Coates didn't do much thinking at all.

The First stood in Coates' body, stretching it, before snapping its new fingers. Reddish light shone through them. Its eyes glowed, and lightning spiralled across its suddenly floating corpse-body.

"Right-o, fellas", it yelled in something approaching ecstacy. And just like that, it was on every screen in the galaxy.

"Heya chums. 'Sup, tally ho wot wot? Just want you all to know something. The Reapers, who your governments have been hi-dinng from you, are re-al! Super duper real, realer than chips and gravy, realer than the morning cab fare, realer than that kinda cute fella you smiled at every morning and were thinking of asking out that was just impaled on a goddamn spike, shortly to become brainless cannon fodder. We're here, gents, and we're the realest thing you'll ever goddamn see. We're here. We always have been. From the dawn of your useless little existences, we have been here. We'll be here for a while yet, and don't plan on stopping that. Now of course you'll naturally try to contest that. That's what dumb pathetic meat bag sacks of garbage and inefficient biology always do. Sure as sure, you'll fight us. But there's one thing in this universe that's for certain. Your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations, and your imagined futures are about to all go up in a cloud of smoke - pufft. You're fucked. Doomed. Damned to annihilation, sure as sure. Nothing you do will ever change that. What am I? I'm the First of many. I'm the last human to be born on Earth. I'm the alpha and omega of this accursed little species. I'm more. I'm the prophet of your incurable demise, planned out long before your sweaty retard ancestors wiped their hairy bums on leaves and thought they were clever little duffers. I'm the Messenger, folks. The Messenger of Despair. And I'm here to teach the galaxy its first lesson. Your resistance is worthless. Fight? Die now. Run? Die later. Everyone dies eventually. The message is this - fuck you, dirty little organics, 'cuz you're all going to die. Sure. As. Sure.

Oh yeah, and a note from my sponsors - Shepard? Commander Shepard? Something like that. Whatever. I'm coming for you. You gonna die, Sheppy, and you gonna die badly. Get prepped. Are you ready to race each other to your demises, puny organic dunce-a-trons? Are you prepped? On your mark! Get set! GO!"

The First Snapped. It was suddenly in front of the building - Parliament, it helpfully picked out of Coates' brain. It giggled.

"Look at your history. Now look at me. Now look at your history-"

A Thanix Cannon's shot hit the historic building, annihilating the foundation-place of modern liberal democracy.

"Oh wait", it tittered, "you can't. Because I blew it up. See y'all soon!"

Regular scheduled programming was resumed soon after.

There could be no doubt. The Reapers had come.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:A melodious but frail voice at the twilight of life could be heard speaking softly inside the room.

"Oh, yes, that day. I remember it as if it was yesterday..."

It was a cool winter morning; on the northern half of Earth, at least. But I wasn't there that morning. I had wanted to take a small trip after designing a new engine for the ISSR spaceship model, and I had decided to visit some old friends in our Hell, so that morning I was at Hell's Garden, a park of sorts right in the middle of Pandaemonium, Hell's capital city, which was built to replace Dys after the Abrahamic War and contiinued to grow under Alastor's rule. Hell had prospered quite a bit under his rule even back then, really, especially after he married the Queen of another Hell. I've only heard stories of how it was before he seized power, and it's a paradise in comparison. But anyway, Hell's Garden is a very beautiful place, full of trees with leaves of many colors and all sorts of exotic plants. I'm pretty sure I've shown you all the drawings I made of it, oh, and Lillia, you've probably seen it yourself. I heard it was a wedding gift of sorts from the Demon Lord to his wife Alia, which goes to show love can literally trascend our reality.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I was at Hell's Garden talking to a friend who saved me a couple times during the war ten years ago, Ciel Taka, who was good friends with the Queen of Both Hells, apparently. You've probably heard of her; she quickly monopolized production of cannolies across the world. She introduced me to her child, though I was rather confused when she said she and her husband were expecting another, since she didn't seem pregnant at all. I chatted a long time with her, and also with the King of Both Hells, who was my old teacher at Elfen High, as you know. He had plenty of children too, I lost count of how many, to be honest. Lisa, you're engaged to one of them, aren't you? Yes, yes you are. I'm sure you'll be very happy together, he's a good man.

It was a pleasant morning at Hell's Garden, but like most things, it had to end- Oh, don't make that face, Liam. Come on, smile for your mother. See? That's much better. Anyway, I had a busy schedule with my new job as an ISSR engineer, and when I received a call about an urgent meeting with the rest of my team, I had to leave. Fortunately, as I was saying farewell to my friends, the Demon Lord offered to teleport me back to the center of Paris, so I wouldn't have to walk very long to get to the office.

What I didn't expect, though, was that it was raining in the city when I arrived. The streets were empty and the clouds were pouring waterfalls on the City of Lights, so I quickly put myself under the cover of the overhang of the entrance of a nearby restaurant and pulled out my notepad to draw myself an umbrella. From where I stood, I could see that it would only be a few blocks until I reached the office, so I began leisurely walking there while appreciating the sight, because Paris, as I had found out long ago, was a very beautiful city under the rain, though the numerous puddles weren't quite as beautiful.

As I walked, though, I noticed someone following me. At first I didn't pay him much attention; surely he's just another person with an unfortunately-timed appointment, I told myself. But soon I realized that wasn't it at all, and he seemed to notice as well, because he started catching up. I tried to pull out my notepad and draw a weapon to defend myself with, but my luck was such that I stumbled and dropped it on a puddle, making it useless. I stood there in shock for a moment before turning around, only to see that my stalker was right next to me by now. He was a werewolf- yes, Lillia, just like in the song, though this one was far less friendly. Most of them were adapted to society by now, but this one clearly wasn't, so I brought up my umbrella to try to defend myself, while shouting for help, because I knew I couldn't fight off that thing on my own. All my life I've been an artist and a designer; I was a soldier once, but never really a fighter, though I wasn't too bad with that umbrella, for some reason.

It still made a poor weapon, though, one that the werewolf easily tore apart after a bit, but just as I was going to try to bite my finger and draw something else to defend myself with, a bolt sailed past my head and into the creature's chest. It screamed before collapsing to the ground, and I winced at the sound, the death throes of a beast are not very pleasant to hear, after all. I was confused, wondering who had saved me, but then I saw him, wearing that silly red cape of his. His blond hair was long back then, tied up in a ponytail, but his moustache was just as absurd as it was eight years ago. To me he looked perfect, though. To me, he always looked perfect.

"Silver-tipped crossbow bolts, they never fail putting down these beasts. Oh, some werewolves think that it's unfair for us to keep these in stock when they're trying their best to blend in with our society, but what do they have to say about these incidents, hmm? Ah, but where are my manners. I am Alexei, a pleasure to meet you,
mademoiselle. I hope that this beast has not caused you too much trouble."

Don't laugh, Lisa. Yes, that's exactly what your father said, and he even bowed to me at that last part. I was speechless, barely able to thank him and say my name. I must have been blushing furiously as well, because he caught on instantly and offered to walk me home, saying that I was probably scared after such an incident and that it would be very ungentlemanlike of him to refuse to offer his support during such time, that sort of thing. His boss and some of his associates appeared soon after, though- Yes, Lisa, I'm talking precisely about that man. I probably wouldn't have noticed him there, focused as I was on trying not to make a fool of myself in front of your father, but I recognized him. I recognized that steely gray hair of his, that stern gaze, the aura of power that seemed to surround that man at every moment.

Oh, yes, the machine gun tipped me off, too.

I think he recognized me too, because he did a double take and then told Alexei not to take too long in heading back, instead of taking him away with the rest of his apprentices and going back to the Society's headquarters. Your father looked at him, nodded, and then turned to me with a smile, offering his hand. I was still surprised from having met that man in Paris, it was a stunning coincidence, but either way, I smiled back and took his hand as we started walking back towards my apartment, chatting awkwardly at first but warming up to each other very quickly.

I nearly got fired that day, but to this day I still look at you and tell myself it was worth it.

"And that's the story of how I met your father. I know I've told it a lot, but I felt like telling it again." The voice concluded with a tiny laugh.

But then came the coughing. Lyra's health was quite fragile now. She was old, after all. The hair on her head was still white, but now it was thin, frail, and her skin was wrinkled and creased, though she smiled even through all of this, she smiled for her children, who sat beside her as she lay in bed.

Three in total, they were. Two of them women, and one of them a man. Lisa, Liam, and Lillia were their names. Liam and Lisa were twins, nearly identical to each other, one sporting short hair and the other long. They took after their father in both looks and hair color, though they had Lyra's eyes. Lillia, however, was the living image of her mother when she was younger. She had the same soft features, the same white hair. She was the youngest of the three, being five years younger than her siblings. All of them were Lyra's beloved children, though all of them had lives of their own by now.

Liam had taken after his mother, in a sense, as he was a world-renowned artist, famous for his uplifting depictions of how the world was progressing, having healed after the myriad of wars and destructive conflicts Earth and Hell and the other realms had gone through in the past several decades, wars that he had not seen, but whose longer-lasting effects he was able to observe. He had been in many a relationship, but none of them lasted very long due to his fleeting nature, and so, he remained alone. A new muse had visited him as of late, however, so perhaps that was the one?

Lisa on the other hand, had taken after her father Alexei. Alexei had taken the mantle of leader of the Slayer Society after the death of the first High Executioner and founder of the society, Frederick, and now, that same mantle had fallen on Lisa's shoulders, as her father had died eight years earlier in an unfortunate accident. Whereas her twin brother was emotional and artistic, she was stoic and sarcastic, making many a person wonder how they could look so similar yet be so different. Years of leading an order of hunters of supernatural threats to humanity had hardened her, though she still had a soft side, as evidenced by her engagement to Aldurn, twenty-seventh prince of Hell.

Finally, the youngest, Lillia, had taken a far simpler path than either of her siblings, settling down in Pandaemonium and setting up a convenience store. She was fairly successful in her endeavors, simple as they were, and lived comfortably in the capital city of Hell, dating a police officer. She was also the only one among her siblings to have inherited Lyra's gift, as even though the others had some of her artistic savvy, she was the only one who could will art into existence. Of course, her mother had taught her extensively about the uses of this power and the responsibility of having it, and Lillia was a woman of strong morals, so she never abused her power, and only used it for the benefit of her community.

All of them sat beside Lyra on that day, that fateful day when her story finally came to an end.

They spoke for a moment- Hours, perhaps, but it was but a moment, an instant in her long life. But then, her children looked at her with sadness. They had displayed remarkable emotional fortitude in the face of such an event, as it had been long in coming and she had discussed it extensively with them, mitigating the impact, but even then, she could read the great pain they bore by just looking at their faces. None of them said anything anymore, and she wondered why, but then, after a moment, she understood everything.

There was a fourth figure beside her.

"I TRUST YOU HAVE LED A GOOD LIFE?" The fourth figure asked. Lyra nodded, a smile on her face.

"I know that this is probably the last thing you expected to hear, but it's nice to see you again." The old woman stated. It was Death's turn to nod.

"I DID NOT EXPECT THAT, NO." The shrouded figure conceded. "ARE YOU READY TO COME WITH ME, LYRA?"

"Yes, I am. But could you give me just a moment?" She said as she sat up on her bed- a feat that she would never have been able to accomplish in her frail state, had she still been alive. But this was only her soul now.

"IF YOU WANT MORE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY, I'M AFRAID I CAN'T-" Death began, but was swiftly interrupted by the old woman's giggling.

"Oh, no, nothing like that. I have had more than enough time, thanks to many people, you among them. No, what I wanted was to give you a parting gift." She said.

Death paused. "A PARTING GIFT?"

"Yes, a parting gift. I imagine your job is very lonely, and while I can guess you have grown accustomed to it, I still want to ease your burden, if I can. Of course, if you don't want to think of this as charity, then you can think of it as me replacing what I once gave you." Lyra said. Then, she pulled a white crayon from behind her ear. Nobody ever noticed it there, concealed as it was by her snowy hair, but she always kept it there, right up until her death. She knew it would be useful to her one day, and indeed, it was.

Using this white crayon, she drew something on Death's somber cloak, and willed it into reality. A humanoid figure, of stony skin to withstand eternity, with long strands of hair black as Death's hood, and bright beads of glass for eyes.

"It can make terrific tea." She smiled, recalling a servant she had long ago, a servant that Death was well acquainted with. "It is bound to you now, so it can be with you forever." Her smile grew wider. She had helped a friend.

"We can leave now."

And so, Lyra left this world with a smile.
Giovenith wrote:As Giovenith remained silent and listened to her friends talk about the going-on's about their world, she mentally pulled herself inward tighter and tighter to fasten against the ever-growing thoughts rattling around in her head and heart. They were not nice thoughts. At first they were merely angry, but then they grew nasty, and now they were outright dark. They were blackened by the descriptions bouncing around the table and the distressed, heartbroken looks that came with them. Tighter she pulled herself, for she did not want to show that she had reached an understanding that she had gratefully lacked for most of her life, but was now upon her with a grim acceptance. For the first time in her life, Giovenith understood why deities became so furious over dishonor.

Every single fear, struggle, pain, heartache, panic, and death scare from the numerous invasions they faced was flashing before her mental eye one way, while the processes of the mundanes' disdain from them raced the other. She remembered blood on her hands from scars she had tended with the sniffy faces of the ignorant superimposed on them. She remembered her trip with Naomi to Elohim and the souls they'd put back to proper homes, souls now using their new lives to wander the streets looking for innocents to use as symbols for their petulant sense of self-righteousness.

I want to take it all back, chilly thoughts misted around her mind, almost reaching her lips but never quite making it. I want to pluck every blessing we've ever given them from their fingers one by one and see their eyes fill with that horrible realization, that you don't know what you have until you don't have it anymore. I want to rip all the bandages, and crutches, and buttresses, and padding we slaved over away, watch them fall back into the dust, and only offer forgiveness when we are good and ready. I want them to see what they had, and how they are without it, without us--pathetic, spoiled simpletons who would be bone dust and ash by now if it weren't for people here doing every little damn thing for them.

The girl found herself in a paradox, where one part of her was scared by those thoughts and another couldn't bring itself to care. Both those parts, however, understood the one fateful truth of the matter: there was nothing Giovenith could do about it. For all she had gone through, she was little just a little girl. There wasn't anything they could change. Or could they?

What now? What about downstairs? she thought bitterly, narrowing her eyes at her lap. What's decided to smash into the peaceful little land of Bielefeld this time? More Drones? Alien invaders? Some mad god? Mutant robot chimpanzees from the eighth dimension? Oh, but we'll just fix that right up for them too, won't we? Once that's handled they can have more time to focus on the important things, like repaying us with half-witted crime accusations and attacks on our character if not our bodies.

The embittered teen felt like spitting at the idea of bandaging some fool while he spewed obscenities at her for reasons a toddler could poke holes in. They forgot what happened just over two years, what would any of it change? Why should they suffer because the people of Bielefeld had the memory capabilities of goddamn squirrels?

Because it's the right thing to do, some small part of her quipped from the shadows.

Nice things come at a price, she reminded it.

Outwardly, Giovenith politely coughed into her clenched fist.

(Special thanks to Nightkill the Emperor for the first Exceptional Posts thread.
Last edited by P2TM on Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Founded: Jan 01, 2014
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby P2TM » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:37 pm


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Swith Witherward
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Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:40 pm

I had a few questions from players regarding how to describe a character using "Show, don't tell". One of my favorite recent posts introduced players to a character known only as Old Sam. Cer's approach is often whimsical. But I'm leaving the entire post intact... too often, peeps describe the character then forget to use its physical quirks. Something as simple as a flattening of the ears or using hooves to manipulate clouds can serve as a good reminder to the reader that your Chaos daemon has been transformed into a Pony without going over the top.

Cerillium wrote:SERENDIPITY

If there was a part of the Force that was neither Light nor Dark, but comprised solely of laughter and tears, the man seated upon the ox would surely embody it. The music that filled Sandy's magical sense was neither horn nor pipe, nor had it a cadence at all unless the listener likened it to the sound of surf whittling away a pristine beach. Rather, the forest seemed to have imbued itself into the man's very nature and, like nature itself, his music was subject to change -- the whispers of pines giving way to the angry boom of thunder, should his temperament be so inclined. He whistled a dirge without pursing his lips (for every boy worth his salt learns different ways to whistle before he's ten). To Opa he was just a human of no great consequence; to Marcus, he seemed a monk or priest of some woodsy degree. The lad would have sworn on his life that the man hadn't been there a moment prior; he nodded to Drova and then edged his pony a touch closer to Giovenith's own.

The closer the man came, the more wizened he seemed, just a geriatric fellow trudging along the route. His mind was ever sharp and, though his eyes remained partially closed, he studied each of them from under grey-lashed lids. They were distinctly out of place. The whole lot of them stood out on the road, and the trees walling the road in did not know them. It didn't matter. The old man knew well enough who they were, even if he didn't know their names. The ox stopped once they were in a decent speaking distance.

"I am Old Sam," he amicably said, "and you Gate Jumpers are a long way from home. Hoping to meet with the dwarves?"

Of course he assumed no such thing. He'd already caught a few young ogres in his back garden and, as any good Necromancer is wont, he intimidated the piss out of them until they spilled the beans.

Vroo's tail swished and he lulled his own name, but Romulus would distinctly hear the words "He's magical" in his mind.


Volker didn't greet Amanda. He would have had his eyes not been fastened upon the gaily lighted carnival far beyond the glass doors. As it was, he merely grunted at Sterling when the pony approached, and thrust a clipboard under his nose.

"I can't believe my eyes," he broke his silence. "Out here, in the Ass Crack of Nowhere, of all places."

He didn't fully trust the playground beyond. It had little to do with it being Perfection's element. In fact Volker wondered if it contained flavors of his own kind. If it did, that meant they'd perhaps have some cultist reinforcements. But if it had arrived under Demens' power? The implications chilled him to the bone.

His eyes flicked downward to check the lists. So far, no new names.


Manehattan? Rache's head tilted as his ears detected the subtle vowel shift. His smile quivered. Did they also have a Whinneapolis, Manenisota? If not, they needed one. The daemon's mind briefly drifted as he rifled through his extensive knowledge of the Emperor's colonies and worlds yet Rache, by nature of what he was, lacked creativity in that department. Willow's question brought him back to the present.

"New style," his head bobbed, but his mind began to float away once more.

It had been a long while since Rache thought of home -- the real home, not trapped inside a human being and subjected to their preferred locations. It was with slightly homesick eyes that Rache lifted his head to regard Willow. The daemonpony breathed out slowly. "I haven't been home in a long time. Not outside my host, not flowing freely. But if I were there now, I'd do indescribable things. Not bad things, or cruel things. Things I don't know how to explain because there's no analogy for it in the material plane."

He pinched a clump from his head and showed it to Willow. "This is me. In my home, I don't have to take form. I simply Am: a spirit, a manifestation of emotion, a sliver stripped from my creator-god's flesh. It's nice. I have earned my right to have individuality." His hooves worked the clump into a somewhat human figure. "If I take form, I'm massive, a bull-horned dog head on a humanoid body. I have cloven feet and wings -- hooves for the win, brah."

Rache flattened his ears and cupped the cloud to his chest. "When home, I engage in battles," he said thickly. "I bring devastation. It's not like daemons or demons bake cookies and serve tea. The more I kill, the more I assert my right to Be. Gnash and bite the enemy, tear his skull from his spine, and paint every surface with his blood. A single foe, ten thousand foes -- doesn't matter. Fuck 'em all."

He closed his eyes and inhaled a cleansing breath before holding out the cloud once more. "But when I'm home, I like to be this cloud, and spend my time observing strange things. This curiosity, and my ability to reason rather than outright murder, is why I was chosen and sent back in time. This cloud is me. The air around us is the Aether, the Sea of Souls. It's a beautiful place. And the real world, this place we call the material plane, is heavy. Think of it as water. A cloud can't exist in water, so we are given hosts to reside in. Unlike a cloud, I can leave my host and exist in water, but my edges would trail off and taint everything they touch, and everything under water would see me for what I am. They'd slay me, justly so."

A tongue thrust out the side of mouth as his hooves worked the lump over again. Lopsided stout legs affixed themselves to the body, followed by a lumpy head. "So, right now, I am a daemon-pony, like this" -he handed the sculpture to Willow- "and I'm in a pony body in a pony world, sitting on a pony bed with another pony. I've observed a bit of your world. It seems grim to you but, even with all the horrors that take place here, it is someplace I almost feel I can Be long in. We-"

Rache's grey nostrils flared as he tasted the ethereal flavors coming from the other room. Brows knitting together, he turned to advise Willow, "Mind slips into slumber, but soul remains awake. It whispers joys and burdens to the subconscious, twisting them into dreams. Pansy's sorrow seemed great not a moment ago. We shouldn't leave her behind when we go."
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New Neros
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby New Neros » Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:10 pm

What's up with this Anti-Infinite Justice circle jerk? Regardless...

A fight scene between two characters, both of whom have powers topping the charts in Infinite Justice, and with snark to match.

New Rob Halfordia wrote:
Xander vs Frost Remastered

Xander watched as Frost took a new form that he didn't use when he was on Earth while he fought the strange creatures. Hmmm. Interesting. He has gotten stronger. I wonder by how much? Hopefully it was enough to where he would get a decent fight out of the Arcosian. It took a little bit, but Frost did seem to come out on top against the creatures. Which led Xander to clap. "Well done! You defeated some woodland creatures! Must've been quite difficult if they forced you to transform." Admittedly they did had a rather large suite of telekinetic abilities from what he understood. He hadn't fought too many of them, but from his little experience, it was a pain in the ass. "You probably remember me from such adventures as, My Ex-girlfriend Tore Your Legs Off and Brain Surgery Featuring Me."

"But I do see that you're back on your feet again. That's good. Poor Julie didn't have the heart to end your life." Xander said. "It's weird though. Lately, every single person that I wanted to kill, just lined themselves up and let me remove them. It's like a dream come true. And then. I get a call that you're back and making a ruckus. And I see that you've got a new form. Neat. I've got one too. But if this is anything like last time. There's a good chance I won't need it. I did some searching and research. Found out a lot about myself. Changed my name, got married. Started a country. You know how it goes. Life, right?" He asked in a pleasant tone.

Frost chuckled as Xander spoke, "I'm glad to see your attitude hasn't changed a bit. It's bringing up such fond memories." the Arcosian said, as red lightning shot through the sky above him, "Its going to be so fun catching up, I haven't seen for, well, several years by my count. And my legs have recovered quite well. I'd say they've even improved. My calves are so defined in this form, I really have to thank you. If it weren't for my seething rage, I never would have felt compelled to train myself to this point."

Suddenly, the warlord cracked his neck, stretching his arms, "I suspect you're not here to shoot the shit though, right? I'm glad you've accomplished so much, because now I can burn all those achievements to the ground. First, I'll not just destroy your country, but the planet it's located on. Then, I'll kill your loved ones, although, that could occur in step one as well. Hell, I may even find a way to legally change your name back to Alex if I can be bothered, if only to get a good laugh. Then I'm going to hunt down Julie, Arctico and ones who killed my nephew and return to Arcos." he said, sarcastically, "Sound like a plan, buddy?"

"See. The problem with that is, you're assuming I'm going to let you leave this planet as anything more than a smear on the bottom of my foot. Well. That and the... Other thing." Xander spoke waving his hand in circles. "Don't wanna spoil the surprise. You're a smart guy. Mostly. I'll let you figure it out. And as for me not just being here to chew the fat. I don't see why we can't do both. I mean at least until you die. Then it'll get real quiet. So let's just jump into the meat of things. I'll start you off at a nice and easy 1% power just to see how you stack up. If you're a good boy, I'll go up to 2!" There was something about Frost. The only person not to call him out on his sarcasm, but instead, return it. It made the fight all the more exciting. It was almost like he saw a bit of himself in the Arcosian. A sarcastic dickhead. The part of himself he embraced.

And thus, it was time for the actual fight to begin. Xander bent his legs and launched himself at Frost with such power, that the entire island behind him was smashed into the water. Readying his hand, supercharged with energy that when it came into contact with it's target, not only would it be a powerful blow, but followed up with a massive energy wave.

As Xander launched himself towards Frost, the Arcosian's mask quickly deployed, and he braced himself for the strike. He had no idea just how powerful the hit would be, and if he had to be pained for a moment to gauge that, then it would be worth it later in the fight. Given that he was at 1% power as well, this would be an accurate indicator of just how large or small the deficit between the warriors was. The Arcosian was sure of one thing though. He was being vastly underestimated.

Frost crossed his arms as the strike hit, the punch sending a massive shockwave through the air. It was at precisely that moment that Frost remembered why he wished to fight Xander, as his body went spiraling out of control, flying through the air like a ragdoll. The Arcosian couldn't help but smile under his mask as he found himself planted in a mountainside. He had forgotten what an actual challenge felt like, fighting somebody who has the potential to push him to his limit, and perhaps, even farther.

As he slowly yanked his body from the rocks, Frost rubbed his wrist, yelling out to Xander, who floated in the out in the sky, "Come on, that was a cheap shot!" the Arcosian caustically shouted, "Where I come from, both parties usually agree before the actual fighting starts, you don't just come out swinging like a madman. Learn some etiquette."

When Frost finished, he lifted his hand, as it began to glow orange, forming a similarly colored ball. Firing it at Xander, he chuckled under his breath, as it wasn't just some normal energy attack, but a Cold Clan signature. An attack that paralyzes anyone it touches, encasing them in an explosive orange bubble that only the person who used the attack can touch. If Xander tried to deflect it or simply block, it would do its magic and capture him in the bubble.

"I don't fight to play fair, Frost. I fight to win. Besides. We have a saying back on Earth. All's fair in love and war. It makes me almost sad. In another universe, you and I could've been friends, but that's neither here nor there." Xander admitted and prepared to swat the bright orange blast away from his body as a show of force, but quickly found himself duped. Instead of sending the blast elsewhere into the sky, he found himself surrounded by a bubble. "Ah- Oh... Frost. If you wanted to take me out to dinner, you could've just asked first. I would've said no, but I'm getting a really weird vibe here." Was taunting his opponent who had him trapped a smart idea? No. It rarely is, but he just couldn't resist.

Frost was gripping his stomach laughing as he floated up to Xander, as his now incapacitated opponent let out a series of snarky remarks, as was expected. Frost ironically made a tear wiping motion under his eye, his laughing simmering down, "You know, Goldie, can I call you Goldie?" he asked, rhetorically, "The only people I've known who ever fell for this trick were Saiyans. Saiyans. What does that say about your intelligence?"

Suddenly the Arcosian cracked his knuckles, "But, enough insults." he said, stretching his arms, "I've got a high score to beat."

"I'd prefer Xander, honestly. You don't get to call me nicknames until after the first date. And... Yeah. I walked right into that one. I'll give you that." Xander said.

"One!" Frost yelled, suddenly kicking the ball Xander was entrapped in, sending it flying towards a mountain. But, just before it struck the cliff face, the Arcosian appeared in between the ball and the rocks. "Two!" Frost yelled once more, giving the ball another kick, this time towards the ground. Once more, he appeared between the ball and its target, kicking it away just in time, and yelling out the number he was at. He repeated this process until eventually, both he and the ball were moving to fast to properly see, and he was getting in hundreds of kicks in mere seconds. Frost was knocking Xander all over New Namek, shattering his bones. The amount of compound fractures he received was inhuman.

Finally, Frost slammed the ball into a mountain side, causing it to implode, creating decent blast which covered the island, containing massive power despite the small blast radius. As the explosion faded, Frost landed on the ground several meters away from where Xander had been kicked. "How many was that by your count?" he asked, using his fingers to count, "I think I got up to 8,000. May have even beat my little shit nephew."

Xander managed to crawl out of the rubble before his regeneration kicked in. " 'Ooo eee. Un se'ond." He tried to speak with his jaw effectively powderized. One bright golden flash later, and his bones were back on the inside where they belonged. "There we go. Good as new. Cool new trick I picked up a few months ago. Well, that one and a few others. Like this one for instance."

"Here's a funny story. My wife made play this stupid game we have back home. It's called Dance Dance Revolution. I can't dance. However, we're gonna see if you got the talent. If you survive. Good on you. The more likely outcome... You'll resemble a Thanksgiving ham crossed with Swiss Cheese." He said and pointed both of his pointer fingers at Frost and fired a massive barrage of thin, matter cutting beams at the Arcosian. The beams were capable of slicing the electrons off of an atom.

Frost suddenly found himself being assaulted by hundreds of matter cutting beam. The Arcosian began dodging the beams as Xander fired them, weaving in between them with immense speed. Sure, his atoms were packed denser than almost anything in the universe, as part of his mutation, but he wasn't going to put them to the test right now. He was easily fast enough to keep up with the beams, when suddenly, something happened.

He jumped away backwards, out of the beams' paths, and lifted his tail in front of his face. One of the attacks had sliced directly across it, leaving a skin deep cut over half of his tail's circumference. "That really... really... hurts." Frost mumbled, as blood dripped down his tail. Inhaling deeply, he looked up at Xander, "I just want to assure you, what I'm about to do, I do not out of love, but out of rage and hatred. Just clarifying because I don't want there to be any confusion when I put you out of your misery."

"Awe... Did big bad Frosty get a boo-boo? Don't worry. I'll kiss it and make it all better." Xander caustically spoke, insulting Frost's pain.

Suddenly, the Frost's muscles bulked up slightly, and he grew several inches taller. Not only that, but his power increased by over fifty times, causing a small crater to form around his body. "Earlier you said if I was a good boy you'd let me see more of your power." the Arcosian said, in a slightly deeper voice, "Well I'm about to earn a good noodle star."

Frost disappeared, as the land behind where he stood was all but annihilated, as miles and miles of land were absolutely shattered from his movement. Moving faster than Xander could keep track off, the Arcosian hit him so hard he quiet literally exploded in a fantastic display of gore. It actually took a second for him to regenerate from that. But once again, his signature bright yellow flash had him restored and laughing. Genuine laughter. "Okay... Okay. That was funny. Oh.. It's been awhile since I've had this much fun. I must've struck a nerve somewhere... I mean that literally and figuratively. Since I kinda... Shot your tail." He said and took a deep breath. "Alright. You've been the good noddle I asked for. So you'll get the treat. I'll boost all the way up to 5%. Just for you." Of course that was his maximum safe limit before reality started to become rather mushy and explosive, but Frost didn't know that.

Xander's power shot incredibly high. Bright golden lightning surrounded his body and grew more and more intense. Splitting the ground, gravity began to shift, causing minor anomalies such as rocks and mountains that floated into the air, stayed floating there. The soft flesh and bone was replaced by pure golden yellow energy. His true form. "Do you like it? Of course you do." He snickered. "Now that you've seen me in all of my glory. You discover my secret yet? That's right. My hair tie is now gone. Well that, and I'm quantum energy given sentience. But Naja, that's my wife's name by the way, is gonna be so mad when I go home having lost it for the fifth time this week. But enough about me."

"I'm gonna show you just how fucked you really are." He rapidly teleported, delivering a massive barrage of blows with each new angle he took. "Do ya want me to slow down?"

Frost had prepared himself for the attacks, and when they came, he was not disappointed. Xander released a flurry of immense punches, causing the warriors to fly all over Namek, high above the planet. As the Golden Guardian released his strikes, Frost began moved to block, before countering with his own set of punches, leaving massive craters all over the surface of the planet with each attack. The two were circumventing the planet at speeds well beyond light, and were nearly completely even in power and speed

"Slow down?" Frost asked, as the two came in for another volley, separating momentarily before finding themselves interlocked again, "I was about to ask you if you wanted me to." he said, breaking the deadlock and flying back several meters, panting, "I'll admit, you're no pushover. This is the most interesting fight I've had in a long time. Five percent though?" the Arcosian continued, "Tell you what, since you're such a good guy, and powered up to five percent just for me, I'll skip the prolonging and just kick it up a notch right now."

Frost, placed his hands by his side, as a purple aura surrounded him. His muscles grew significantly larger, and bioelectricity cycled around him. His power more than doubled, and his wounds from the matter destroying beams and recent pummeling began healing. The Arcosian cracked his neck and it let out a satisfying pop. "Damn, that sounded badass." he said out loud, as he looked back to Xander, spreading his arms and leaving himself open, "Now, I want you to hit me as hard as you can. I don't want you to hit me half as hard, not 64% as hard. Come at me with everything you've got, because I don't just want to kill you, I want you to know you can't kill me. And so, I want you to really hit me. Got it?"

Xander was enjoying himself a bit more than he should be, or was willing to admit. It had been so long since he had a fight that he actually had to put effort into, or didn't have to rely on backup to bail him out. Every blow that he and Frost exchanged was one of mutual, sarcastic hatred. "As much as I would like to power up to 100%, remember what I said a few minutes ago about being made of Quantum energy? See, the thing about reality warping is... It's not a toy. It's dangerous, and unfortunately I can't control it. Safely at least. Those things that we all know and love, the laws of physics, basically become silly putty. Now, I'm a biologist, not a physicist, but I don't think if the laws of physics went from the solid foundation of reality, to silly putty, that any of us would be happy with the result. You'd be dead, I'd be laughing. Reality would collapse on itself, and I would probably eat it too."

"Don't get me wrong, as awesome as it would be for me to go full power and smack you around with a flick of my pinkie, I can't. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't want to give the universe a blue screen. I mediated and put mental barriers in place to stop me from using that power. Cause, you know. Destroying the universe is more often than not, regarded as a bad thing. Both of us would be dead, along with all other life. And that doesn't leave me much to do. Like... My wife'll be dead. Which means I don't get to have sex." He explained, genuinely disappointed that he wouldn't be able to show off all of his power to his best frenemy. "I know you don't have sex. You'd have to find a woman that likes that ugly mug of yours. That and the actual lack of a dick."

After Xander spoke, Frost did not make a witty retort, but simply chuckled a little. "I wonder..." the Arcosian said, looking down at the planet below, "How many innocents do you think are left down there? Probably not many. But, there probably quite a few out there somewhere." Frost said, looking out into space, "What do you know. I've already found quite a few." Looking around, he saw a galaxy out in the night sky, "Ooooh, that one has lots of life. I'll be right back." he said, disappearing momentarily.

"Wait. That's not a sarcastic comment at all. S'matter? Run out of quips already?" And then Frost vanished. He wasn't just going to let him get away without firmly planting his foot between Frost's lungs and colon. He used his cosmic senses to search everywhere for the Arcosian. Then there was a hole. A sort of pop. Something vanished. Wiped out. It took him a few seconds to register what Frost had done.

While light took too long to travel for anyone on Namek to see what had occurred, anyone who could sense life energy would see what had occurred. Hundreds of trillions of lives taken in one blast, without warning or any kind of chance for escape.

Frost quickly reappeared before Xander, smoke rising from his right hand, "Well, Golden Guardian, look at what your stubbornness caused. An entire galaxy is gone. If there's a high score for genocides, I'm sure I'm quickly approaching it. Now I repeat myself. You. Me. Hard as you can. Or maybe you'd like another several trillion species to go extinct." the Arcosian said, unaware of the lion he was poking at.

"You... You just... Wiped out... Trillions." Xander said with his voice breaking, clearly trying to keep himself from getting angry. "I'm right here! They didn't do anything! They were just people... All because you want me to do something dangerous? Just so you can see power that can't be controlled? Fine!"

Xander was already a volcano of barely contained rage as he was. He was always extremely careful to keep it suppressed so he wouldn't lose control, not even for a second. But now? He couldn't contain it any longer. It had to go somewhere. And what better place then aimed directly at the one being he wanted dead more than anything else. Xander pushed against his own mental restraints which quickly relented under the sheer amount of rage. "You want to see how powerful I am? Well then, here you go." His power went to above his 5 percent limit nearing 30, and as soon as it did, the very fabric of reality began to warp, twist and bend. Water burned, the sky went black despite the sun still shining, the materials around him took on different properties. Rubber rocks, water that flowed backwards.

50%. Distance was no longer what it appeared to be. The trend continued until he fully charged up to 100%. New Namek and the stars surrounding it were only kept from truly falling apart by Xander's sheer willpower. Though he wasn't sure how long it would last. Frost looked around as Namek began to warp and change. His body remained unaffected however, and whether this was a symptom of his ultra durable atomic makeup or just luck was unsure.

"Alright. Here we go. As hard as I can? I can do that." Xander said, moving with such speed that time stopped and hit Frost with what could only be described as a blow that would have torn the very galaxy asunder had he not been doing his best to keep everything from truly falling apart.

Frost momentarily scoffed as Xander came in for the attack, but in truth, was entirely unprepared for the strike Xander delivered, as the quantum beast was moving so fast time itself paled in comparison. Frost was flung into the sky, before slamming into a small baseball sized object which lingered among the warped clouds, an object which was the result of a star being warped out of reality's normal confines.

His body wrapped around the tiny ball like a folding chair, causing his back to release a painful crack. Despite being the size of baseball, the star maintained its density and heat. Frost pulled himself away from the object that under normal circumstances would likely be a black hole, and looked down towards Xander, as the sight of the Elo brought forth a feeling Frost had all but forgotten. This feeling the Arcosian felt was a primal emotion he thought he'd all but abandoned when he was a child. He felt fear. And it felt exhilarating.

Frost flew down towards Xander at speeds well out of the realm of physical possibility, preparing to strike with an attack of his own. However, at the last moment, he entered a portal, directly in front of the Elo. Suddenly, ten of these portals tore through reality, and out of each fired massive, 10 meter wide beams capable of completely destroying anything they touched, all at different angles.

"Hm." Was all Xander had to say. Normally he kept his cool by making stupid snarky remarks. Kept him cheery, if a bit of an asshole, but that was infinitely preferable to him finally giving into the incredible amount of rage that he had bottled away. This was what happened when he did. He stood perfectly still as Frost attacked him from nearly a dozen different angles with what looked like some form of dimensional energy turrets. At worst a minor annoyance. He redirected the energy they shot above his head, letting it amass while he closed the portals, the simple act of doing so, shook the planet to it's very core. His control over reality was slipping. He used his rage to bolster his willpower, but even that had its limits.

"Fear. An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat." Xander said half to himself and to Frost. "This is the power I feared. That I wouldn't be able to control it. And I can't. This planet is ripping open at the seams, and I can't stop it. I can make sure that neither this world, nor the galaxy you so mercilessly wiped out. You will die." He said and dispelled the energy he had amassed from Frost's attack. "It didn't have to be this way. We could have been allies, friends even. Good-bye Frost. You won't be missed." Xander muttered and began to charge a blast that would punch straight through the universe if he didn't keep it from doing so.

As Frost began to rematerialize, he saw Xander charging a massive amount of energy several hundred meters away from him, and quickly realized what exactly was occurring. "So..." he mumbled under his breath, "That's how it's going to be..."

Frost cupped his hands together, placing them at his side as a blue aura surrounded his body. His muscles began to bulk up, and his power began dramatically increasing. 150%. 200%. Eventually, his power reached 500% and sweat began dripping down the Arcosian's face. A massive blue light emerged from his hands, illuminating the warped surface of the planet. "Xander!" he screamed out to the warrior opposite him, barely clutching the universal power which his hands housed, "Prepare to be annihilated, along with this pathetic galaxy! I will show you the true meaning of fear, and why an insect like you could never defeat a monster like me!"

Frost couldn't hold it any longer, pushing his hands forwards and releasing a massive, building sized beam, at least 200 feet tall, aimed directly at Xander. It's sheer power shook the very foundation of the distorted solar systems they inhabited. The energy from the attack could be felt not only from all around the Galaxy, but all around the universe. At the same time, Xander released his own blast, equal in size and intensity. When the two met, they sent out a shockwave so potent tore holes in reality itself, creating massive craters all over Namek, and even beginning to melt the core.

"Empty threats." Xander said, "You've barely reached half of my power. I'm allowing leeway, because I want you to see that no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you fight, you're going to learn the lesson that I learned long ago. There's always someone better. And because I'm going to flay the flesh from your bones, I will render you powerless. You are nothing. You are LESS than nothing. Just like every other worthless monster I've killed. You are no different. A bit stronger, yes. But that's it. Predictable." Xander hissed as he slowly began to increase the intensity of his blast. He had only ever been in a few beam struggles before. They were always pretty to look at and completely awesome to take part in.

This one was all the better. He was putting actual effort into it. Had this have been with anyone else that he liked, he would be enjoying himself. "Do you feel it Arcosian? Do you feel your life slipping away? Powerless? Weak? Good. That's what everyone you killed felt like. You're going to die on a backwater planet. A fitting demise for the King of Nothing."

As the Xander increased the power of his assault, the planet shook to its core, a massive amount of energy being thrown around. But something made itself frighteningly clear. Frost was at his limit, and Xander wasn't. As the Elo's beam slowly pushed forward, the tyrant's face twisted in pain, both his arms outstretched as he attempted to fight back against the inevitability of the attack. But it was too much, it inched closer and closer, his own attack slowly being snuffed out by Xander's.

Frost dropped to one knee, his feet digging into the ground under the pressure. The beam continued to draw ever closer. He only had one choice. Cutting off his own attack, Frost threw his arms in front of his face. This attack had the power to destroy a universe of unchecked, he would just have to try to deflect it. The ball of energy from Xander struck his hands, creating an intense burning sensation that could only be described as hellish. The Arcosian's feet continued to dig into the ground, and lava began erupting in spite behind him, as the ground tore itself apart.

But, it was too much, and the attack began to engulf Frost's arms, before detonating, an explosion of ungodly proportions spreading across the planet's surface, engulfing an entire hemisphere, and extending out into space. Within that explosion, enough compressed energy to annihilate or just a universe, but an entire reality. It was unreal to put it mildly.

However, as the smoke cleared on the scorched ground, where Xander likely expected to see no life, stood a lone Arcosian, defiant of death, his body as burnt as the ground at his feet. He looked up to Xander, "This planet... will not be my tomb." he struggled to get out, about to continue when a voice spoke in his head, one be recognized, and one he trusted. The voice of an Arcosian of the Council of Arcos.

"Yes. It will."

"You survived?" Xander asked rhetorically, "Impressive. But judging by your current state, physical exhaustion has taken it's toll. One more should-" Xander said, being cut off by something happening to Frost on the ground below.

The Arcosian grabbed his head in pain, dropping to his knees. Not because of Xander's attack, no, but a new attack from a different front. It felt like his nervous system was tearing itself apart. The Arcosian could do little more than yell out in agony, finally falling to the ground as he was left helpless to Xander, at the Elo's complete mercy as his synapse's fired messages of excruciating pain all over his body.

Xander hadn't even done anything yet. "No. You will die by MY hand." Xander prided himself on being a skilled biologist. Frost was going to die by him and him alone. Not whatever was ailing him at the moment. A brief scan of his body revealed something that certainly wasn't native to Arcosian physiology. "And what do we have here? Hold still." He muttered as his hand phased through Frost's head to pull out the device that was implanted in his mind.

However, due to his Elo physiology, combined with his unstable quantum powers, Xander caught a glimpse of Frost's memory. As in, all of it in roughly a few seconds. Enough to make him wince. The device was removed from the Arcosian's skull, but then Xander felt something that he never thought he could feel for someone like Frost: Sympathy. The Arcosian more or less shared a similar story to his. Raised and treated like an object, a weapon. Taught and trained to be a cold, unfeeling destroyer. Followed by a brief realization that if not for his desire to change, he likely would have wound up in the exact same position.

The realization and sympathy calmed his mind down to where he was back in the stable levels of his power. "It's... I... Really don't know what to say." He said, his tone noticeably less hostile, definitely confused, and even a bit somber. "As it turns out... We're. Not completely different from one another. The way they treated you. Like a weapon. That was almost me. There were moments where I thought that was all I would amount to. Being a weapon for someone to use and discard when they were done." He said and dropped the implant in front of the Arcosian.

"I genuinely can't believe I'm saying this. I can't do it. I wanted to end you. I was going to end you. But now... I can't. It's like looking in a mirror. I can't help but feel... Bad." It was a long sigh that he let out. "Here's the second thing I thought I'd never say to you-

"-A second chance at life..."
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Swith Witherward
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Founded: Feb 11, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Fri Mar 25, 2016 10:17 am

Just a glimpse of an adventure run by a first-time GM.

Giovenith wrote:Building

Giovenith began to dig around in her pockets with both hands and carefully pull out small fistfuls of shiny black rock onto a nearby table for everyone to observe. Obsidian was a black, shiny rock that came in several jagged edges, and clattered against the table with a higher pitched tone.

"Talking in mundane terms, obsidian is a rock that is very easily prone to shattering," the godling explained, holding a large chunk in her hand. "However the edges created from those shatters creates a cutting edge that even puts high quality modern chef knives to shame. A big enough chunk of obsidian can slice right through hide and meat with one nice glide. Because of this, it was a favorite of primitive humans in tool making. You see though, it naturally breaks off into jagged pieces..."

She threw it against the ground and let it shatter. The rock split into three more rocks, each as equally sharply geometric as the other.

"While you can technically carve obsidian into more rounded shapes," she continued, picking up the pieces. "This is typically done by professional jewelry makers who have very advanced and modern equipment designed to carefully smooth and polish rock, and it definitely takes great skill and practice to do it. It's not something we here can just cook up out of spare parts or pull out of our bums. So no, I don't think bullets are viable option. You have to keep in mind how big Varg is probably going to be too, when we strike him, those strikes need to be deep and deadly - a few couple-inch pings lodging themselves at his back doesn't seem like it'll do any good, though I'm not a strategist. As for horse gear, well, the whole point is that obsidian can be used to harm a dragon, so I don't see much point in that."

She shuffled the rocks back into her pockets.

"These are just weak, playful examples," Giovenith said. "They won't work very well for weaponry. As we currently stand, our biggest challenge is finding enough obsidian to do this in the first place."

Brit and Chrys

The fading moonlight hitting against the muntins cast a cage of shadows across Clover's face that contrasted deeply with the dim, spectral twinkles that bathed her body and reflected in her eyes. The titans of iron and glass were unlike anything humanity had ever constructed in even her most imperious cathedrals, visions of divine providence immortalized in a way that only the hand of magic knew how. They'd been standing here longer than even their oldest records, a piece of history so deep that it bordered on myth, and it was only by their place as the elite among the elite that the two young girls dwarfed by these treasures were able to gaze upon them with something other than numbing awe.

The magician's eyes shifted beneath her hood to take in the still form of the royal standing several feet to her left. Fittingly, she was the most regally cloaked in the glory of the windows' display, the princess' pale coat and locks offering her entire body as a canvas for the twisting colors of nebulae, planetary landscapes, and Heavenly abstract forms. It was a scene of perfection for any staunch traditionalist, of royal blood and divinity honoring one another in such a pure display of resplendence, if not for the truth of the matter plain as day in the regent's eyes.

Fatigue. Bitterness. Betrayal.

It was said that gods used uncertainty to acquire faith. What was less often acknowledged was that even the gods could push their luck - faith untended was faith lost. How long did you wait for somepony before accepting that they were never coming back? Clover knew that her friend had long since grown sick of asking herself that question, for a multitude of reasons - Clover could relate. It was once hard to believe that there would ever be a time in their lives where she would grow to miss the spoiled rotten girl who cried about there being too few or too many chocolate bits in her pancakes and how her curtains were so very out of season, but dancing with death everyday had a funny way of making you see things in a new light. Yeah. What she wouldn't give for just one more lecture about the importance of tiara maintenance....

But not even Platinum was dreaming tonight.

"Do you even have a way to put them back where they came from?" the princess finally broke the silence, her gaze remaining upon the towering stained glass.

Clover was roused from her wistful thoughts and pinched her brow in grim thought. "I was going to try experimenting with the mirror."

Platinum huffed, unimpressed. Blue and red squares glided across her face as she turned to scrutinize her adviser. "That's a dishonesty I wouldn't expected from you, Clover. Starswirl's mirrors are little more than experiments." Eyes still on the magician, the princess thrust a foreleg out sideways, pointing accusingly at the stained windows. "Time is dwindling grain by grain, the Heavens have broken their promise and now we only have ourselves to rely on. Others may have given up, but not me. So we don't have time for experiments..."

The younger unicorn didn't quake or apologize, her expression remaining stoic, made more so by the shadows cast by her hood. It took a conscious pinch of willpower for Clover to refrain from flicking her tail and betraying her slightly growing sense of attitude. "Not only ourselves." It was simply stated enough, but the matter-of-fact tone only worked to emphasize the tension.

Princess wasn't so concerned with hiding her distaste. She reared her head and scoffed at this statement, making a point of her agitation by pounding heavy, distressed trots against the stone floor where she stood. "I'm not going to repeat to you what you already know!"

"There is nothing more that they could possibly take away from us," Clover said bluntly, narrowing her eyes and lowering her hood with her hooves. "So forgive me if I fail to see what it is you fear. Amiable or not, we have always depended on them in times of prosperity, why would we deny them all now in times of desperation?"

Platinum shook her head fervently, loosening her halo braid and setting white-gold strands askew. The 18 year old princess tried her best to keep a firm attitude against the apprentice, but the pressure from all the duties, disappointment, and death was catching up to her. Stubbornness, it was more sympathetic when you realized it was just a guard for fear. Clover's eyes lost their edge as she heard a stuttering choke, and looked up to find the princess charging at her. But it was not in anger. No, Platinum's white hoof soon rose beneath Clover's green, bringing them both up to hold together.

"Clover..." Platinum tried to find the words. "We're safe for certain like this, you know? We've always been safe like this."

Clover blinked.

"Everything around us is going away so fast..." Platinum looked up once again at the windows. "Everything I grew up with, everything you grew up with."

"You are afraid of change?"

"They want to burn your library's books," the princess said. "And the Queens' tapestries in the halls, some of them anyway. We may need to if it keeps getting colder. What will we have left after that?"

"But what does that have to do with the other tribes?"

The princess withdrew, "Our culture... is the best..." she sounded uncertain. "I just want things to be as they were before." And she fell silent.

The apprentice shook her head and pulled her hoof away. "I really don't know what it is you're trying to tell me, Platinum," Clover stated with assertive finality. "You know I appreciate what you have to say, but now is really not the time. Soon we will need to prepare for the trip downward. You are coming with or not?"

Platinum seemed hurt by this dismissal, but was quick to harden, not wanting to show it. She took a moment to collect herself before answering in a leveled tone: "Yes, yes I am. I just need to prepare, then we can wake the visitors. I'll be back."

And she dashed past Clover a little too quickly. It was a little guilt-inducing for the magician to have to cut the princess off like that, but Clover just assumed that this was Platinum's normal dramatics shining through just a little even in her state of near-despair. There wasn't any time to cater though, morning banished many of the worst terrors, and they did not have many sunrises left to spare.


Bum. Bum. Bum.

Can you hear it?

Bum. Bum. Bum.

They are speaking.

Bum. Bum. Bum.

Calling through the flames.

Bum. Bum. Bum.

They want to see me.

Bum. Bum. Bum.

They want to touch me.

Bum. Bum.

Drinking up my breath.


Burning down my throat.



The whole place was the color of weather-bleached plaster and rotting rock, if there could be such a thing. Dirty whites, yellows, and light browns all blended together into a grimy, unpleasant paleness, made worse still by the long and crooked shadows overcast by the misshapen structures all around. They grew from the ground, jutted from the walls, and crumbled away in places that only further added to the hideous haphazardness of their shapes. These shapes cast a twisted sea of shadows upon the ground, within which were several little islands of light.

It grabbed your arms and held you there.

You couldn't struggle. You couldn't move. You couldn't look anywhere but forward. You certainly couldn't scream. All you could do was feel the pressure of pure force itself squeeze down into your arm bones, and listen to the loud sound right next to your ear. It sounded like a cross between a stutterer with a bad cough and television static, with what sounded like what was attempting to be a voice starting off a wheezing huff and fizzling out into a fuzzy curdle.
Hufffssssssssss... hufffffssssss... huffssssssss...

Finally, something managed to get out, but just barely.

"We will fuck your skin and feed it to the dogs-"

The last word ended the wheezing as the voice erupted into a deep and skull-shaking roar. The environment burst into whipping chaos, as if you have been picked up by your head and had the rest of your body flung about like a rattle. It was so painful and nauseating, the dreadful colors and the shadows and light all blurring together into one untraceable, unforgiving mess.

That was soon all over by the sensation of you finally being let go. You flew through the air. You did not gain speed, you slowed, and rather than settling, the blurred ugliness of the shaking faded out into blackness. A single, clear, feminine voice whispered neutrally:

"Come and play with us if you can, cunts..."


Lady Lily Lightly shook Chrys and Brit awake from the nightmare.

"Oh, I hope you slept well darlings!" the friendly maid greeted the two, levitating some warm cinnamon toast in front of them. "The princess and the Clever one are expecting you! Says you've all got some research to do? How exciting! Hope you do find some clue into taking care of this winter." Her magic began to draw back the covers to help them out. "When you get back, hopefully we'll have a new shipment from Groundtown."

Yuna and Aegis

Everything was beautiful once.

Things were always beautiful in their beginnings. It was a gift, a most merciful and kind one, but also a tool. For as lovely as it was, the simple truth was that innocence only existed to serve as a reference point for suffering.

She remembered when her innocence ran out and it was time to live the Mother Earth's true glory.

Little did the Residents know that there was actually a little bit of truth to the various they had told the pony natives about themselves, at least there had once been. The old country of equines wasn't one too often explored to it's fullest, most citizens of all three tribes content to stay within their respective bubbles their whole lives, but once upon a time, there had been at least one family that dared to defy the norms.

It was always hard to figure out what actually were memories and what were constructed fantasies based on building upon those memories, but she supposed it didn't really matter. She could remember the end well enough, so the rest was really just filler. If there was at least one thing she was certain was real, it was the sound of her father's rickety carriage as it rolled through the tall grasses of the open prairies and the feel of her mother tenderly nipping her hair into place whenever it was blown askew by the gentle wind.

"Baby, Mama is singing!" her mother would always tell her with great excitement whenever the wind whistled. She grinned and held a hoof to ear to lean in, smile wide and eyes bright, before letting out a long, sweet whistle back into the open air. That was the most wonderful thing about her mother, how genuine she was. Whenever she got her foal excited for something, it was clear that she was every bit as excited as a child herself, not merely gasping with theatrical condescension for the child's sake. She was bright and pure as the sunlight.

Papa was no different. Though he was strong and lumbering, he was never one to have an ill temper even in the most stressful of times, always eager to give her girls a hug and a smile and sing along whenever mother called for it. Singing was their foundation. For even just with three ponies alone out in the beyond, music could make the world seem bigger and more active than even the most lively crowd. It was no different that day, the carriage stopping as soon as mother made her announcement, father unlatching himself from the pulleys and trotting over with a smile.

" 'If you're all alone and want some company,' " her mother began one of their favorites. The little filly burbled with laughter and latched onto the offered hoof, letting herself be steadily lowered onto the ground so she could run about freely. " 'It's a fact that you can always count on me...' "

" 'In the blinking of an eye,' " father joined mother, wrapping a foreleg around her and pulling her close. They both smiled as they watched their toddler daughter scamper off into the grasses gleefully. " 'I'll be by your side, just whistle and I'll be there!' "

Just whistle!

At the time, she was far too young to effectively sing along let alone whistle. But the happiness she knew from her parents' sweet music coupled with the begging vastness of the open grace was siren song enough for such a small one. She reveled in being able to run and spin about so freely, and for his parents it was no fear - the prairies were too far for her to hide behind anything, so no matter how far she got, she was always in sight.

" 'Whistle this melody, just whistle and I'll be there, whistling is the way to call for me...' "

The song became fainter as she ran further, but the excitement in the little one's heart did not. She knew nothing and thought nothing but warm green, yellow, and blue, the tickle of grass and the huffy-huff of her tiny lungs as she propelled herself aimlessly across the ground. So free, so open!

Soon though she stumbled, and just caught herself before falling too far into the dirt. She did not wail like many other children would, used to such life as she was, but it did make her simple mind stop and wonder. She couldn't hear the singing anymore, and for a moment she curiously walked between the tall grasses, looking this way and that in basic baby curiosity. Had something pushed her?

Not even running at all this time, she found herself stumbling again as the ground felt like it had begun to shake much like whenever she tried to stand up and walk when the carriage was moving. But was such a thing possible? She didn't know!

"Sundae!" she heard her mother call in a very concerned voice.

The filly huffed confusedly and tried to look over her back. "Muh-muh?"

That concerned cry was the last thing she remembered hearing of her mother and father before the baby Sundae was violently thrown across the air by the rapid cracking open of the earth's crust.

"Ahh- ahh!"

Sundae Surprise fell out of bed, tangled in her blankets, as she arose from her trouble sleep. It took a while for her to escape the tangled mess, emerging a wild, frizzy mess. The filly took a moment to slow her heavy breathing and look around her room, collecting herself. Once calm she picked herself up from the floor and began to think.

I can finally save everypony, she thought. Today is the day I make it all right.


The heavy pounding on the wooden door of the abandoned house Aegis and Yuna had taken shelter in quaked throughout all the walls, it being rickety and old enough to have lost much of it's soundproofing touch.

"Helloooooooooooo!" someone shouted from outside, their voice muffled but understandable. "I know you're in there, sillies! Come on out, I got you some muffins!"

"Aegis, Yuna? Y'all alright up there?"

The second voice belonged to Smart Cookie, whereas the first was clearly SkyWishes'.

Rache and Willow

As was to be expected in winter, it was still dark out very early in the morning when Cloud Duster woke up, the city was silent save for the occasional harsh whistle of wind. The young pony took a moment to rub his eyes, shake out his mane, and stretch his wings before dragging his armor out from beneath his cloud bed, clicking it into place, and silently gliding through the air down the hall. Willow and Rache were apparently still asleep in the guest room, as was Pansy on the sofa. Quiet so as not to rouse any of them, he picked up his scarf and saddlebags from where he dropped them the night before and slipped through the front door and into the streets.

It was quite a distance from his house to the south-eastern ration unit, but he didn't mind. He enjoyed having the time to travel alone. It gave him an opportunity to pretend that he was the only pony left alive in the whole world. That was a nice thought. Once he finally reached the unit there was nopony else waiting around, and he quickly did a mental count of the bits in his bag before walking in.

Strangely enough, the stallion who usually worked the front was not there despite him normally being up and alert at around this time. Cloud Duster briefly considered robbing the place due this fact, before figuring that that would be more work than it was worth and just deciding to search for the stallion on his own. He called out the guy's name a few times and even hopped over the counter to search around the back where the supplies were kept. Unless he'd gone out for some reason he couldn't be very far off, the unit was hardly a spacious area. There was just enough room in the back to store the mandatory emergency-time rations of food and just small enough in the front so that only one average family at a time could actually request anything. Duster was pretty sure the guy didn't live here or anything, so there was no housing area to check either. It was entirely possible he was just running late, but considering the strict regiment that they were all currently under, Duster doubted it.

The Private finally got his answer when he found a closet in the back that he assumed must have been where the stallion stored all the bits and ballots, eyes widening when he realized what he for a split-second thought was some rolled up carpeting was actually the counter stallion hanging tight from a makeshift noose from a sturdy ring he'd fashioned out of the closet's cloud ceiling. Scanning the body, Cloud Duster guessed that it couldn't have been a very automatic death, as the stallion was quite long from hoof-to-hoof and had to tie his neck as close to the ceiling ring as possible to achieve the desired outcome. Considering that, it was probably more of a self-strangling than a self-hanging. There was something poking out from his belt, a bent-up roll of papyrus, which Duster snatched out and unraveled.

" 'May winds of better places take me...' " he read off the paper. " 'And to Tartarus with the rest of you.' "

Well he guessed he had no choice but to rob the place now.

Cloud Duster went to work rummaging through the supplies and stuffing what he could into his saddlebags. He moved quickly but was careful not to make a mess, closing up boxes and drawers after raiding them and making sure to only take a small bit each from multiple containers rather than greedy grabs from few containers so it seemed like less overall was missing. Some hay blocks here, some grass there, two jars of berries. He would inevitably have to tell authorities about the stallion's suicide, so when they came to inspect the place he didn't want them riding on his ass later about taking things, hence the need to make his theft inconspicuous. Once that was all good and done with, he checked off his mental grocery list, poked the corpse a few times, and made his way out the door. The sun had begun to rise, and most ponies would be just stirring from their sleep right about now.

Unfortunately, he didn't make it very far down the street before running into an unwelcome face. Cloud Duster took a few steps back as Valoria looked down at him with clear scorn, only staring back up at her with a blank, glassy gaze.

"You," she sneered.

Duster flicked both his ears.

"Word around is that you decided to play host to that small gang you had with you yesterday night," Valoria hissed, grabbing onto the colt's shoulder blade with a threatening grip. "That's a very nice way to pretend that you're doing something helpful."

"I think it's helpful."

"Shut-up," the older mare snapped, launching some spittle into the colt's eyes. "You've probably already poisoned them or something! You don't deserve that house either. You don't deserve to be the last one of your kin standing." She pulled him in closer with her grip on him, practically smashing her skull against his to look him ferociously in the eye with her own bloodshot glare. "Back in the old days, they used to always test new foals, make sure nothing was wrong with them, and the defects were thrown off the clouds to die so they wouldn't grow to screw anything up. Commander Maelstrom put an end to that, called it 'unforgivably barbaric.' But you..." Valoria dug her glare in further. "You are the living proof of what happens when we don't cull nature's nasty little surprises before they can strike first."

"What a wonderful history lesson," Duster remarked in a gentle voice. "Thank you Soldier Silvershields, I'll be sure to remember it. But now I must go."

He tore himself from his grip and attempted to trot away, when he was yanked back by Valoria's bite grip on his tail.

"I'm not done with you yet!" she snapped in a louder volume than before. "Who do you think you are? Do you have any idea what I've been through!"

Oh lord, she was going to make a scene and lock him into it. Cloud Duster was not in the mood for this.

"All my life I've done nothing but sacrifice!" Valoria screamed at the wide-eyed, blank-faced teenager. "All your father ever did was sacrifice! He sacrificed everything for you and your mother! And ever since then you've done nothing but dishonor and destroy! You don't deserve half Cloud Twister's name, you didn't deserve to waste seventeen years of Rainshine's life!"

How the flying fuck was he going to get out of this? He couldn't just turn tail and run, the bitch might chase after him and make even more of a scene, possibly accidentally reveal his stolen goods in a struggle, or just make him look like the villain for tossing with a vagrant. No, he had to make sure no matter what he did, he stayed in the clear. Stayed innocent. He began to think rapidly.

"Stop staring at me! Kýon, alópix! You never stop staring! I'm not stupid, I know you stare when you're thinking evil! You want to try something against me, alópix? Go ahead then! You are no terror! You are nothing! I've snapped more formidable things slithering in the grass!"

Threats. Ah. The thing just kept getting louder and more erratic, and it was in that Cloud Duster saw his opportunity. He carefully began to prop up his forelegs in front of him, laying one horizontally propping the other upward on it's middle joint. Valoria assumed he was trying to mock her by creating a "bored" stance, with head casually propped in hoof, and this caused her to become more angry. Something very cold stirred inside her core as she watched the blue nuisance awkwardly wiggle around his legs.

"Ái ston kóraka! I understand why Rainshine abandoned you. I'd rather hang myself than have a sisyphus for an offspring too."

Cloud Duster suddenly lurched backward without warning, ripping his horizontal foreleg upward as hard as he could and consequently causing his propped foreleg to literally punch him squarely in the face with hard force. He allowed himself to stumble backward onto the cloud pavement, quickly curled up into a ball, covered his face, and screamed as loud as he could.

Right on cue, a couple hundred windows flew open from the buildings and homes surrounding the area to peer in the direction of the cry. Nosy neighbors who'd been eavesdropping on the street argument in the early twilight as they prepared for the day whose alarms went off as soon as they heard the clearly younger voice scream - as owner of said younger voice had expected. None of them had seen Valoria nor Cloud Duster throw any punches, but it wasn't hard to guess what they were assuming once they looked upon the sight of a teenage boy curled on the ground in front an angry, mangled hobo known for drinking.

"Stop it, stop saying those things!" Duster cried out, channeling the choking tone of voice that other fillies and colts yelled at him with whenever he said cruel things to them. "You're wrong, my mother loved me!"

Valoria's anger was immediately extinguished and replaced with shock as she tried to process what had just happened in front of her. As Cloud Duster mimicked distressed wails of sorrow and frustration on the ground from behind his forelegs, the homeless veteran flattened her ears to look frantically around her at the judgmental looks from all around all pinned on her.

"Get up!" she snapped at Cloud Duster, voice more desperate than angry now. "Get up! You're fine!"

Cloud Duster was not fine. He'd aimed extremely well given the circumstances, a dark and steady stream of blood from his nose revealed as he lowered his hooves from his face. It hurt like fucking hell, but he'd been through worse, and it was having the desired effect. He flinched on purpose, making it seem as though a step forward by Valoria was a threat of another strike.

"Enough!" Valoria snapped, seeing what he was trying to do. "Liar!"

A new voice calling for cease stunned the scene, freezing Valoria in place and causing several of the onlookers to slink back slightly into their windows. Valoria looked up to see twilight glinting on dark armor, and Lieutenant Star Catcher was soon upon them. The latter had been making a routine inspection of all the ration units (Cloud Duster just having beaten her to the south-east one, not that she knew that) when she'd been stirred by the sound of yelling like everypony else and flown just in time to see Valoria yelling at one of her bleeding Privates, but unfortunately, not soon enough to catch Cloud Duster's deception. Thus it was his side that she descended to, helping the child off the ground and quickly pressing a clean rag to his face to stop the bleeding.

"Does anypony want to tell me what this is all about?" she demanded, glare aimed directly at Valoria.

"I was just walking..." Cloud Duster said, his voice slightly snort-like due to his nose being pinched. "Trying to get to a temple, and she came out of nowhere and started talking about my family and I tried to calm her down but she just went crazy and struck me! I didn't know what to do!"

"Liar!" Valoria shouted, causing Star Catcher to back-up slightly with Duster. Seeing the clear suspicious anxiety on the Lieutenant's face, the veteran backed up and shook her head, trying desperately to present herself as reasonable. "He's making it all up, Lieutenant! He's trying to get rid of me because I know his nature!"

"Oh, so I just decided to punch myself in the face and scream?!" Cloud Duster choked with angry sarcasm.

Valoria was speechless for a moment. "Yes! That's exactly what you did!" Realizing how insane that sounded, she looked up to the Lieutenant with pleading eyes. "That's exactly what he did!"

"Soldier Silvershields," Star Catcher sternly addressed the veteran. "It takes a village to raise a child, but you are not this Private's mentor or parent. You have no right to lay your hooves on him."

"I did not-!"

"Then why is he bleeding?!"

"He took his forelegs and beat himself!"

Star Catcher's eyes only grew colder and she tightened her grip on Cloud Duster, who took a split second to drop the distressed act and level his own dead-eyed look at Valoria while the Lieutenant's gaze was distracted, causing the vagrant veteran's face to turn notably red and enraged at this silent admission. He again hid his face in the rag, feigning anxiety over her presence and fear of another attack. It was unlike what he had done to Silver Wind; youth-on-youth violence was generally expected to be handled between the youths themselves, but adult-on-youth was another matter entirely.

"Lieutenant, you know me," Valoria begged, now addressing Star Catcher. Her ears folded and she held a hoof to her chest. "We served together."

"We did serve together," Star Catcher said. "And that is why I expect better from you. You should be ashamed of yourself."

Cloud Duster looked up again just in time to see the hurt in Valoria Shilvershields' eyes. It was a familiar look. It was the look that babies gave their mothers and small animals gave their potential killers. The look of absolute, total vulnerability, only one single word hanging on the lips of the mind... 'Why?'

It was the look of power. Power of the one who was able to draw such a vulnerable gaze. That would be him today.

He smiled sickly beneath the rag.

"You make your way to the central command," Star Catcher ordered Valoria. "I will be there to talk to you once I am done with inspections. Do not make stops along the way or leave until I personally dismiss you. Now."

The Lieutenant pointed a dire hoof in the general direction Valoria was to take. Still visibly hurt, the homeless mare looked between her former comrade, the boy, and the judging looks of the surrounding neighbors. It was an entire community taking the side of the Private over the veteran, and Valoria could do nothing but begrudgingly concede defeat. It was easy to keep fighting on when your enemy was a physical force facing you head-on, but in the war of trickery, she had been bested by a little monster.

"One day, you'll get yours..." she breathed quietly, pointing at Cloud Duster.

"Out!" Star Catcher shouted, stabbing her hoof through the cold air in the direction she was pointing.

Valoria was already on her way before the Lieutenant could finish even her short order, running and launching into the air to speed away as fast as she could to put the embarrassment behind her while still pretending to have some dignity in the matter. Once she was out of earshot, Lieutenant Star Catcher sighed sadly and moved to tend to the Private while the surrounding onlookers moved along to other activities.

"It's okay," she comforted, letting go of her grip on him and gingerly pulling the rag away to inspect his face. "You had a bloody spill, but nothing's broken. Just clean it up and you'll be fine."



"Soldier Cerulean Skies hung himself in the ration unit. I was coming to tell you when it happened."

"Oh, wind give me strength..."

Cloud Duster observed Star Catcher's clearly tired face. His violet eyes followed as she placed a hoof over her face and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment as if considering the world was a pain to be endured. It wasn't hard to guess why the regent would be tired and stressed. For all Duster's life though, he knew she had always been protective towards young ponies. She was highly involved in agoge, charity for unwed Domestics, and personally ran her blade through the neck of the leader of the short-lived pederasty movement. Considering that this was now the second time Duster had been forced to lash out so immediately at somepony making an obstacle of themselves, he figured that now might be a good time to put some money in the bank as it were and get on his greatest potential unwitting ally's good side. She had been the one who assigned him to take care of Rache and Willow, after all. He could use some protection on the bumpy road ahead.

Thinking back to the extensive events of yesterday, Cloud Duster mentally prepared himself to try and channel Pansy. It was far from perfect given he'd spent so little time with her, but for such a short interaction, it did it's job. "Lieutenant?" he asked again, hesitance in his voice.

Star Catcher sighed and lifted her head. "What is it?"

Action. Cloud Duster gently flattened his ears and looked downward, considering something. His eyes flicked back up to the Lieutenant as he asked: "Is that really how we're all going to end up? Like Soldier Cerulean Skies?"

The Lieutenant raised an eye. "What do you mean?"

The teen sniffed and meekly dabbed at his snout, trying to clear the blood away. He seemed embarrassed to speak more. "Like... like there will be nothing left? Even strong ponies think that?"

"You have to keep being strong no matter what you see, Private. Put faith in the city before your fears."

"I know, it's just..." Cloud Duster looked down, pressed his lips tight, and held his breath. Inside his mouth, he began to slightly bite down on the inner flesh of his gums. Harder, harder, harder, until tears started to well in the corners of his eyes from the pain. "I don't want to die. I'm sorry Lieutenant, I just don't, I know I'm not a good soldier..." He checked her expression from the corner of his eye. "I miss my cousin."

Slightly but surely, the muscles in the Lieutenant's face relaxed, a slight crack in the shell. The mention of Thistle Whistle had been a good touch. Cloud Duster reminded himself to ease into that crack carefully; too much sorrow would come across as pathetic and needing more of correction than sympathy, but too little would seem like a fleeting moment of weak faith that could easily be dismissed. He wanted to walk that fine middle so he could stay in her mind. To be able to cash in on her good nature whenever he needed it while still maintaining his position as somepony who could trusted to make judgments.

"We all lose somepony during our lifetimes, Cloud Duster," she said. Ah, she was using his name, good. "It's part of being Cyniscan."

"I was supposed to protect her," he gasped, scraping a hoof against the ground for good measure. "She was never as strong as me and I always protected her, but I didn't do it then. Now she's gone even though she should have been the one who had the most second chances in place."

The regent slowly flattened her ears and frowned sympathetically. Duster held his breath again and bulged his eyes a bit to the cold, dry air to get more tears running. It worked, and Star Catcher was soon pulling the younger pony into a supportive hug. "Do not sorrow, little one. You may be this city's future forces, but today you are only so strong. Do what you can and nothing more. I am always here to listen and talk if you ever need somepony to do so."


"Truly. You just focus on the job you've been given, be good to the explorers. It's very admirable that you stepped up to the plate, so do not let anypony distract you or try to pull you away from it. You have my support."

Duster nodded slowly, though his expression was blank. He wiped away the last of the blood from his snout then released the Lieutenant and handed her back the rag.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. That is precisely what I needed to hear."

And with that, Cloud Duster was finally allowed to make his way back home in peace. He checked to make sure his supplies weren't damaged and took note of the sun's position in the sky, taking it as prompt to put on an extra burst of speed back to the house. He'd prefer not to wait till the next day.

Once he returned home it was finally light outside, and he noticed that Pansy was gone and her blanket folded up as neatly as they'd all been taught to do. Alright then. Setting his supplies down, he immediately went to the kitchen to dig around in an old box of his mother's to find the longest wooden spoon they owned. Cloud Duster sometimes had a problem learning things, but one thing he had managed to cotton onto was that when dealing with survivors of the Crusade, you never wanted to get too close to them in the event that they got suddenly spooked.... He quietly made his way to the guest room where Willow and Rache were sleeping, soundlessly gliding a few feet away from Rache before gently poking at his face with the long spoon. It gently pushed at his lips, eyelids, cheeks, and nose, squishing around his face flesh in an effort to steadily wake him.
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Swith Witherward
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Postby Swith Witherward » Mon May 23, 2016 9:04 pm

Two months later, and this GM's first adventure had become much darker. Deliciously so.

Giovenith wrote:-snip-

Brit and Chrys

"Right!" Platinum nodded and shoved Brit back towards the tunnel. "Hurry, now! We have to reach her!"

The scent from Chrys' pouch was like a scream in a room of whispers, it so overpowered and shamed the fainter scents of garden and summer sky. In fact, they seemed to waver and disappear for a moment, like a bump in a radio signal, before quickly returning. When they did, "Hans" was several feet backward and sheepishly smiling back at Chrys.

"I'm sorry," he apologized with a light laugh. "I love you, I do, but something very exciting has happened and we don't have time to waste it. We must make haste!"

He jumped backward slightly toward one of the stone paths.

"Don't worry about Brit and your unicorn friends," he reassured. "We sensed the dimension you were all in you see, and the Men were able to save them and the rest of your missing friends! I can bring you to them dear, and then we can snuggle all you want!"

It wasn't exactly the kind of wording that Hans would have picked. Behind Chrys, Mirare started to slowly drag across the stones away from the scene by an unseen force.

It didn't take long for Brit to make her way back down the original hall and into the room with the black light crystals, which were now glowing at least ten times more intensely so as to pain the eyes. Sight could only be managed through short, winced blinks, and even then the sheer brightness left white spots on the vision. It was in-between all this blinking and visual confusion that things hid.

One blink a figure was there in the lights and the next they weren't. Sometimes something seemed there, but quickly faded into the buzzing lights. The voices were loud and clear though.

"You know, this would normally be the part where we all try our best to fuck with your emotions and ruin you," a voice from nowhere in particular said in a perfectly casual tone. "But trust us, give or take a centuries, that will become so cliche. But you would know that, wouldn't you? So, instead of playing boogiemen, how about instead we talk like grown-ups?"

Other than blinding lights and the voices, nothing was yet hampering Brit's way. The other two tunnels were still wide open.

"We already know your name, Atracia found it, it's Brit," the voice continued. "So no need to introduce yourself. I assume you've guessed we're the Umbrum? Excellent! I'd offer tea but, well, you know, bad timing. Hey listen, just a fair warning, we'll give you a fair chance but we're going to have to inevitably kill you all, so..." The voice made an apologetic teeth-sucking sound. "Yeah, nothing personal."

"Nothing personal?" another voice said.

"Okay, maybe against the princess. We'll deal with that when it comes though. Nothing personal against you though!"

"Unless you make it personal. Because then..."

A black crystal sprouted from the ground in a flash close to Brit's foreleg and ripped upward into her flesh, leaving a deep, burning gash. Blood pooled from it and clashed against the bright cave room.

"Oh my, it will be harder to run with that, won't it?"

"Aww, stop picking on her, guys. I just wanna talk a little. So, masquerading ape-monster... you have attraction for a lizard-person and a Chaotic husk? That almost makes the pegasus look normal! Try left, by the way."

"What is it doing?!" Platinum pawed at the ground frantically. "What is Brit doing?! What are you doing?! Clover the Clever, do something! We can't just watch this and wait for Brit!"

This was the third time she had insisted this exact same plea. Clover had already since gotten onto attempting to "do something," but despite Platinum's requests for haste, she was still fixed on rummaging through their bags with her magic for something to help. One of those most essential lessons a prospective wizard could learn was to remain stoic during high-stress situations, and although Clover remained concentrated and grit-faced through her rummage, a sweat bead or two was forming on her brow.

"What's taking so long?!"

"I am going as fast as I can,"

"Well go faster! Can't you just crack the code behind the field and bring it down or something?!"

"No," Clover hissed. "I don't have the tools or spells to read it, and it would take too long otherwise."

"Well you've got to do something!"

"Does it look like I'm not trying?!" the magician snapped, which caused the princess to flinch back, looking wounded. Clover normally had a fairly long fuse, but even she was starting to lose patience. Platinum had been taught most of her life that insistence brought results but that was not true right now. What Clover needed was silence in order to evaluate her arsenal and options.

Finally catching on, Platinum flattened her ears and took a few steps back from the sorcerer's apprentice. She felt twists form in her stomach and blush flood her face, always hideously noticeable against her white coat. Unable to stop looking back at Chrys her heart thudded like a steam engine, such so that it wouldn't have been difficult to find herself fainting in a very princesslike manner - before all this, that was just what she would have done, confident that fifty or so silken cushions would be zapped in to comfort her fall. She'd enjoyed pampering. She'd enjoyed making a burden of herself to others.

Not anymore.

Though she knew it to be selfish, Platinum took a moment to squeeze back some tears. There was more to the life of a Glorianan than beauty. One needed true, genuine talent, and being a princess, much as they might all pretend, was not talent. Clover was a mage the likes of which was said to be hardly seen, Chrysanthemum was obviously some sort of warrior, and Brit was a leader... a real leader who needed no tiara.

Like mother.

Clover, meanwhile, was damn near close to giving up when in her mad shuffling, something fell from her pocket and tinkled against the floor. Illuminating the hall with her magic, Clover levitated the object to find that it was a piece of her Babylon Chalk. An idea sparked to life.

"Stand back," Clover shook Platinum out of her sad stupor by pulling her back and approaching the barrier. "I'm going to run an experiment."

"Will it save Chrys?" the princess wiped the tears from her eyes with her foreleg and looked at the younger pony like a deer in the headlights.

"I don't know, but I hope it will help."

Clover's hypothesis was a shot in the dark: Nothing that intended you harm could cross Babylon Chalk, even if it was a magical force. The magician had little doubt that the powers that were accosting them, creating the creature above Chrys, and creating the barrier, were all cut from the same cloth, and whatever it was most certainly meant them harm. The green unicorn spun her chalk mid-air and inspected its length before narrowing her eyes, positioning it, and jabbing at the barrier with it.

A shower of sparks cracked and snapped loudly, spooking the two young mares, but Clover persevered. Pushing the chalk into the barrier felt much like pushing the identical poles of two magnets together, a constant push-back that took all of the magician's strength and concentration to overcome. She may as well have been pushing a saw through steel what with the display that resulted: Fiery sparks continued to burst and shower down as the conflict of magic waged on, the malevolent forces of the caverns locked in invisible combat with the nature of the Babylon Chalk. After a minute of this, Platinum spotted a faint but visible line of shimmering green scorches that at first appeared to be in thin air, but upon closer inspection seemed to contrast in coloring to the rest of space. It was breaking through! Why, it was like a diamond against glass!

"You're doing it, Clover!" Platinum cheered excitedly. "You're cutting it!"

But the Umbrum were ever watching and listening. They surged with fury at the counter against their power and the delighted cries of the insipid daughter of Argenta. While with Brit they put on a facade of hospitality they wasted no such efforts against the unicorn royals, focusing their magic into one strike that pulsed through the rock and stone itself, through the barrier, and manifested as a shock of black lightening that threw Clover the Clever backward and shattered her chalk into dust. Platinum screamed the magician's name in shock. The dark figures then turned their wrath on the mage herself, reaching deep into her and slowly squeezing her lungs, pushing the air painfully up out of the unicorn's mouth and causing her to cough and wheeze violently.

Platinum swiped her bag through the air around Clover as if she could fight off the unseen forces. "Stop it! Stop it! You monsters!" Seeing that would do no good, she tossed the bag aside and dropped to hold the younger pony close. "Clover, try to breathe!"

Easier said than done, not that Clover could hear Platinum. Even suffocation wasn't enough for the Umbrum though, and much like Chrys and Brit before, the apprentice's eyes soon lit up with the color of possession.

It was so traditional for great magic to begin in humble places, and once upon a time, a little unicorn named for the pillows of spring was no exception to that rule. Of course she hadn't known those traditions at the time. All she had known then was her parents and digging.

"This is a dream?" Clover, the modern day Clover, thought, looking around at the scene. "No, an illusion. Their illusion."

Mining was one of the few manual labors that unicorns ever had to experience, and even then, it was only reserved for those specifically talented and willing in the area. Miners were a curious class of Glorianan. Constantly subjecting themselves to dirt, grime, and sweaty labor made many citizens tempted to turn up their noses, however, all were quite aware that they served one of the most important functions in their entire society. What was a unicorn's life without gems? Without precious metals? It was easier to answer what it might be like without water or grain!

"How am I still conscious?" the mage thought, observing a small mountainous path below her vision. "Should I not be the audience, but the participant?"

Her question was soon answered as her vision flickered to that of being inside a small rickety cart going up the mountain path.

Her family, her original family, had been part of that awkward middle ground in the sparkling civilization of the mountains. They were very well-off but didn't have many friends, all due to their work, but they were happy. Father, mother, and daughter all only needed each other. A tiny green hoof poked out of the cart to tap beautiful mommy's snout lovingly.

Clover felt the sensation of her face muscles contorting into a growl. "You bastards..." Not her parents, the Umbrum. The bastards using her parents as a clear taunt in this damned illusion. They wanted to break her heart for their amusement? "You bastards think I haven't accepted this?"

Father had scouted the area earlier that week scanning it with his gem-finding spell and concluded that there was a large, untapped source near that would line their pockets for months, maybe even years! And nopony else had found it yet. Father and mother kept this secret to themselves like naughty children, telling nopony of their discovery, eager to keep the spoils for themselves as long as they could, for if they had then ponies would surely rush to the spot and they would wind up walking home with mere spare change!

It has been their undoing.

She was NOT going to allow them to think that they were victimizing her! The consciousness known as Clover gritted her resolve and began to thrash herself about, ignoring how silly that may have seemed in an illusion, pouring all her focus into shaking off whatever hold was on her so as to ignore the vision and hopefully crack the spell. If she wasn't paying attention, how could it continue?

"Scratched DVD" was an apt description here - though DVDs had not been invented yet in even modern Equestria.

The vision flickered, skipped, and jittered. It was unknown if this was an effect of Clover's resistance or perhaps her patchy memory at the time of her age (four springs), but the Umbrum's torturous memory had skipped much of the trek there, the digging, the rumbles above them, her parents ignoring it, the landslide... and stopped at child Clover (and by extension adult Clover, at least in perspective) as she lay in the dark, releasing many squeaky, terrified gasps, as she stared up at the boulders hovering just a foot or two above her nose. They were covered in the sparkling sheen of her aura, the only thing preventing them from coming down and crushing her to death. It was unheard of for such a young babe to accomplish such a display telekinesis. Let alone for two days without food, water, or sleep. It was a short but inhumane time that would have broken most adults. Little Clover hadn't known nor cared about that at the time: her only care was focusing on her magic, on those rocks, trying not to have it all messed up from crying too hard at the feeling of her parent's blood and brains seeping from the cracks of the rocks around her and into her mane.

"We always wondered why you were not insane," another consciousness joined Clover. "Nopony would blame you for it. Is it difficult? You should give up."

So they said as if giving her conversational, friendly advice. Clover continued to thrash and ignore them.

"If it doesn't bother you, then why do you struggle?"

"So I can help my friends get away from YOU."

"We don't believe you," they continued. "Look at this. Look at you. Your mother and father were greedy fools, they couldn't have cared about you, or else they wouldn't have brought you. They should have left you safe at home with other family or friends, someplace you would not have had to endure this. It's their fault. Can't you see it? Look at the way their flesh douses you. Look at how you suffer. You were just a baby. We have seen the grown and experienced take their own lives over far less. It is unspeakable. Look at it..."

The mage refused to further engage the malevolent cluster and began to turn inward, searching for some magic within to aid in her escape.

"LOOK AT IT!!" the voice erupted into the twisted growl that had plagued Chrys and Brit's nightmares the other night and clutched Clover violently, forcing her to stop her struggle and gaze upon the vile memory.

Clover was ripped away into a new perspective by the the seizing and forced to look directly downward into the eyes of her younger self. Little Clover could obviously not see the future apparition, being only a whisper of times gone by herself, but it did nothing to take away from the undeniable pain that both aspects of the pony known as Clover experienced in that moment of connection. The foal was fighting, fighting so hard, but the tears still made her eyes red and the struggle to properly breathe in such an enclosed space while still sobbing was clear. Occasionally she mustered just enough courage to desperately try to push the boulders up off her completely and create a way out, but even the miraculous baby of a magic-user just wasn't strong enough for that, and she always screamed as the rocks faltered back and she scrambled to push them back to their original place.

Clover the mare averted her gaze from Clover the filly. Though she was just a consciousness, she still felt the sensation of hot tears freely streaming from where her eyes rested.

And she smiled.

"Why?" the voice asked, no longer growling, instead quiet and confused. Almost hurt. "Why aren't you breaking?"

Clover coughed a laugh. "Because," she said. "You only ever focus on the darkness. The bad times. Not what happens next."

On cue, a flood of brilliant light broke through the scene and shone down on the frightened filly and the two consciousnesses.

The boulders had been pulled out of the way. Somepony gasped, and there was a jingle of bells as 4-year-old Clover was gently lifted with a white telekinesis from her tiny Hell and into a strong, kind embrace. She hiccuped and buried her face in the clean blue cloak of her savior, seeking out warmth and protection.

"Shhhh," the stallion hushed. "Shhh. I have you."

The foal's eyes struggled to adjust to the light of day as she sought out the face of the one holding her. The first thing she should have noticed was long, white, oh-so-wizardly beard hanging from his chin, but what she wound up focusing on were the twinkling honey eyes. They were half-hidden under the wide brim of a bell-studded wizard's hat, wise, but gentle and full of concern for the new foundling.

"You held up those rocks?" he questioned with clear astonishment. "You?"

The foal's eyes filled with tears once again at being reminded.

"No, no, no," the stallion once again comforted. "Shhh, don't think about it. Don't dwell upon it anymore. You're safe now little one. Nothing will hurt you any longer."

His magic shifted the filly to his back where she clung tight. She attempted to look back at the landslide scene but he gently begged her to look away and focus on ahead. And she did. She kept her gaze straight ahead and her back toward the past as the Archmage of the Court of Gloriana took her to a new life.

The Umbrum hissed.

The former frightened child smirked. "You like to dwell on the past. That's impressive. But the past is the past for a reason - there is always a new sunrise around the corner."

Filled now with the strength she needed, Clover the Clever, prized apprentice and adopted daughter of Star Swirl the Bearded, yelled a battlecry and launched herself against the dark presence, dominating and absorbing it.

Back in reality, the squeezing of Clover's lungs ceased and her breathing returned to normal.

"Clover?" Platinum gasped, shaking her friend. "Clover!"

The possession glow had not yet faded. Rather, Clover gritted her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut, struggling to thrash her head about. What could only be described as purple smoke began to leak and whisper out from the sides of her closed eyes, slowly growing in length the more she fought.
Last edited by Swith Witherward on Mon May 23, 2016 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Giovenith » Mon May 30, 2016 8:10 pm

Torsiedelle wrote:Torii had stayed out of the way. She just couldn't handle it, and if someone said the wrong thing, or stumbled over her...

Torii wiped tears from her cheeks, but kept weeping. She felt as if her entire world had just shattered around her. It was horrible; it was an absolute nightmare, and all she wanted was for her friends to be there to comfort her.

But they were dead. No Gio to assure her that everything was alright, or Marcus to cradle her and just treat her with dignity and respect. Torii was alone, and that was worse than anything.

Audette let out a long sigh. She had been standing behind Torii for some time, she knew, but she didn't care as long as the woman said nothing. Now, she did speak, and it was far from what Torii wanted to hear.

"You know the reason why I got my augs?"

Torii didn't respond. Audette chuckled. "My best friend was an aug. She had eyes that could put a hawk's to shame. Those eyes didn't save her when the building we were guarding exploded one night, though. It was a freak accident, or so the news said. You wanna know what really happened? Terrorists. We were called in because some prick had pissed off the wrong people, and next thing you know you got a couple of pissed off Haji's runnin' around the place. I was outside when it blew, chasing one of the fuckers. My friend? We swapped glances for barely a second before the fucker blew himself to bits."

Torii shuddered. Why was Audette saying this? Was this supoosed to help? It wasn't.

Audette paused. "I got hurt pretty bad. Eyes and shrapnel don't mix....neither does your apendix, but what are those good for anyways? Well, long story short, my friend died right in front of my eyes, and there was no stopping it. I was too damn slow on the draw, got distracted. Look, Girl, people die. People close to you die. I heard you wailing back here, and I'm just gonna say that it's better to suck it up and don't crumble. That's my advice."

Torii stood up; she was in the other woman's face in an instant. "You want me to just pretend like nothing bad happened? Becaus that's fucking stupid, Audette! Why the fuck should I just suck it up?! You lost your friend, and act like some hardass because that's easier for you, but not me! I played the hardass for seventeen goddamn years, and I got sick of it, so that's why I cry, so don't you fucking tell me to go back to getting used to it all. Gio and Marcus were MY best friends, the best I ever had! I loved them, damnit!"

She wanted to say more. She wanted to keep letting loose on Audette, but...

She just couldn't. Torii's energy and vigor sapped away again. "I loved her. I...I wanted to say that so bad. She was the one I protected. Marcus? He was my hero, because he could do what I couldn't. They were my anchors, Audette. I don't know what do to anymore."

An uneasy, deafening silence settled between them, and they stood for a minute longer before Audette slipped a pack of cigarettes from her back pocket. She lit one; Torii took another, and they took a few minutes to simply think and recuperate.

Finally, Audette broke the ice again. "Let's get something to drink. I think you deserve a good shot of whiskey or two anyways."

Well, they had certainly gotten a few drinks in. It was a very, very short walk to the pub, and to the bar itself. Now without the baby, and with Audette being old enough to get the hard stuff, there was nothing stopping them from drinking their sorrows away. Torii, at least, had felt her worries melt away; it had been a few years since she had anything stronger than beer, and Audette was used to slamming down hard liqour regularly, so she wasn't affected badly. It was a bit of a shock, at least, to see the two women exit the pub, Audette chuckling and looking over the younger woman, who was struggling to walk a straight line, babbling on. "You know, you said you'd say how you got your eyes, but you just rambled about your friend.", She said, her words slurred. Audette shrugged. What can I say? I'm not a motivational speaker. I shoot shit."

The two continued to talk, though Torii found herself feeling a little two dizzy, and so she sat down on a bench, unknowingly right next to Miyuki. Audette snickered and shot them both a look before pointing back. "Hey, I'm gonna go get some more drinks. Torii...take care, Kid. Don't puke."

She walked back off, back towards the pub, while Torii stared off into space, her head bobbing just slightly to each side.
⟡ and in time, and in time, we will all be stars ⟡

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Thu Jul 07, 2016 12:01 am

Wonderfully crafted.

Normendie wrote:
Never stop running.
No matter what you hear, never look back.

Never stop running

His brother's final words to him pulsed in his mind as he ripped through the muck of the trench-lines, boots slipping in the mud as he scrambled over rotting corpses in the no-man's-land. Rain had mixed with bile and blood in the churned dirt of the dilapidated field to form a murderous strain of mud that grappled with one's limbs and threatened to drown them in the vile substance. His feet, driven by the madness of hysteria, powered through the foul muck seeking purchase to right himself but only sunk him further. The putrefied corpse beneath him sunk into the mud with his struggles; to be claimed by the earth and forgotten by the world. But its existence would serve one final purpose as his feet flailing in the mud raked through the semi-liquefied flesh until they connected with bone. Now having something to stand on, the lone guardsman tore himself from the mud and mush of man in a desperate leap to crash back into the killing field a yard ahead. Fear drove him further, caused him to claw and scream through the waste foot by foot, ripping fingernails from his digits as he scrambled across the sunken wrecks of transports. Like a whale breaching the surface of an ocean he erupted from the no-man's-land muck into the serenity of a trench, spilling into puddle on the trenchbed. Finally having a solid substance to stand on, the waste-covered man spun on his heel to look at where he came from, then broke down into a hysterical quibble of nonsense. It was still there. His flight had done nothing, it was the same distance from him when he had started running. The horned angel stood in the killing fields like a statue, patiently watching him from afar.

Loosing a howl of terror he broke into a run again, twisting on the balls of his feel to flee down the run of the trench. He didn't need to chance a glimpse of what lay behind him. He could hear it. An inhuman gate- one great shock through the ground followed by another after a lengthy pause. The corrupted angel was flying through the air with its gallop, despite his bulk and mass, it was as if it weighed nothing. In vain desperation he fumbled with the straps to his backpack and peeled it off his shoulders- frantically ditching the weight behind him. A dull thunk followed as it collided with the abomination behind, whose shadow now slowly crawled over the guardsman's head. Hovering above him was a gold bulb for a helm pitted with several small hole with a pair of great horns twisting up from the sides to sharpened points directly above the head. The guardsman finally broke from the overwhelming terror, shortness of breath slowing his sprint so he slammed into the greave of the armored titan. Pitched into the bed of the trench by the leg, he coughed and sputtered as dirt was shoved down his throat as a giant armored leg slammed down on him. He choked as the boot came down again and more abruptly on his pelvis and shattered it, trying to force a scream through the dirt that muffled his voice.

The giant's boot relented, pleased by its work and released the pressure from the guardsman's body. The guardsman sputtered as he vomited earth from his throat, wincing as he did so from the hot agony that was the splintered remains of his pelvis and hips jostling freely in the muscle below his waist. Too dehydrated to cry, the man suppressed a scream as he rolled on the trenchbed to behold what would be his murderer. It was a horrible thing to look at. Blasphemy incarnate. A man given the power all men crave, yet who turned against his very species. There was no jibbering madness now however- he was too tired, and in too much pain to be afraid. All he felt was a rising anger, a burning resentment of the thing that had butchered all his friends, the thing that now wore their belted heads in murderous joy. He hated it. Had he any weapon he would have fired upon the fallen angel regardless of the futility.

The fallen-thing cackled maniacally in mechanical, metallic laughter blasted across vox casters built into its ancient war plate. It recognized the emotion on the slave's face, one it was all too familiar with- for it was one he had worn for ten millennia. The slave was impressive however, most men this close to their end either pissed themselves or cried until silenced. His hate was pure, respectable, and in other circumstances could even be watered until it bloomed into the blood-craving madness of the War-Given-Form. But it did not care for Gods. They were tools of war like anything else. Its laughter continued as a quieting chuckle while it slowly drew an iron chain looped around its left arm- a rusty meat-hook hanging from the end. The angel paused before dealing the blow, the man's hatred was followed by loathed mortal curiosity.

"Why had it fallen. Why did it turn against creator and race."


It answered with deafening malice that threatened to rupture the mortal's eardrums, each word delivered a painful assault on his ears as the words themselves seemed to be infected with taint.


The angel's hand fell, and skewered the guardman's shoulder with the meathook, binding him to to the Iron Warrior. The unfortunate screamed in further agony and gripped the rusted chain as the Iron Warrior dragged him from the trench, dragging him through the mud towards a tank that loomed in the distance. One that bore an empty crucifix.
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Why is everyone a social justice warrior?
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Swith Witherward » Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:56 pm

Taken from "Sailor Moon: Apocalypse", this isn't a pivotal scene. The writer, Spindle, has captured all the elements that make a post exceptional, IMHO. Isaac is three-dimensional. He breathes. His reactions are woven into the post rather than flatly stated. Spindle paints a complete scene.

Nicely done, Spindle. I hope to see more of your writing in P2TM.

Spindle wrote:
Isaac D'Estreta
Main Desk
Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library

Isaac's brow furrowed in confusion as Damilus burst out into laughter, face reddening a little as his hands came together in front of him. What was the joke? Had he said something wrong? Had he said something right? He wasn't sure about the entire situation, and he didn't like being unsure. Not one bit. It meant that other things he did were more likely to be wrong and he really didn't want to do something wrong around Damilus. He knew that at least some of that came from the fact that the man had just activated a centuries-old curse unscathed, but mostly he didn't want their friendship to go down the drain because he did or said something wrong. Which was something he did distressingly often.

As Damilus explained, Isaac felt his blush intensifying. That had been...a joke? So that had been what the tone was about. He'd have to remember that for later. He didn't want to walk into this kind of thing so blindly again. Although the fact that Damilus was still trying to set him up with someone didn't sit quite right with Isaac. Perhaps it was just his description of her, or perhaps it was just the principle of meeting someone new outside of the Library. Perhaps it was just the idea of leaving the Library. Whatever it was, something about the scenario set him on edge. It was probably nothing, but it lingered in the back of his mind, like a particularly persistent ghost in his thoughts.

As the words died away Damilus sighed lightly and closed his eyes, absently petting the cat curled up happily in his lap. He looked...content. Isaac had no idea what kind of thoughts might be boiling away under that mask, but Damilus wasn't giving any indication of them. The comfortable silence extended and deepened, broken only by the occasional rumble of a car outside the Library. This early in the morning, almost no-one would be coming here. Certainly not on a weekday like today, so Isaac knew he wouldn't have to worry about another visitor for at least fifteen minutes.

Isaac didn't know when Damilus opened his eyes, but suddenly the other man was studying his face with thoughtful eyes. He was coming to a decision on something and Isaac was content with the soft silence around them, so he simply waited for his decision in silence. He saw the man's lips part a little, pause and then start to speak as if imparting some solemn secret. Leaning forwards, forearms resting the desk, Isaac listened intently to every word the other man spoke, filing away and cross-connecting everything he said. That...actually explained a fair amount. The way he never aged. His comments about the cat. The way he always acted like he'd seen everything before.

And, like a boomerang, the questions were fighting to be the first off of his tongue once more. Where was he born? How had he exteneded his life? How had he kept that off of the government's radar? Was he immortal? Did he have a set lifespan? Or would he simply live until he was killed? Could he regenerate? Did he need to breathe? What was it like to live that long? His mouth was already open to ask one of them, although he had no clue which, when Damilus cut across him with what sounded like an invitation to a social event.

At the change of pace Isaac blinked once in confusion, the questions vanishing from his mind. He'd been invited to...a social function? But he wouldn't know what to do! And the description of some of the people there wasn't really filling him with confidence that he'd be able to get out without serious injury. He knew exactly what kind of people he didn't want to meet in dark alleys, and it was the same kind of person who he wouldn't want to be associating with, in any way, shape or form. But at the same time, he knew he couldn't really say 'no' to Damilus, and as the man lifted the cat back up onto its shelf, Isaac knew he was going to give it a go anyway.

Damilus' hand landed on his head and ruffled his hair a little, eliciting a small sigh from Isaac. He was going to have to sort that out before the next visitor came. A moment later, the thought was driven from his mind as a bolt of glorious lightning shot through his body. A molten warmth followed in its wake, spreading through his body and suffusing him from his core to his fingertips with a golden radiance which had his hairs standing on end and his mind on cloud nine. For a moment, he was euphoric.

And then he saw Damilus' face and he was brought right back down to Earth. He was biting down on his lip, not quite hard enough to draw blood, but enough to turn it paper-white. The rest of his face was little better, the blood apparently drained out of it and a thin veil of sweat drawn across his pain-wracked features. As his hand came away, he gave a small, pained smile of reassurance which did little to ease the flood of worry rushing through the inside of Isaac's head. After a few moments of strained silence, Isaac realised that Damilus was giving him room for questions and two burst out of his mouth like a stampede of cattle:

"Are you alright? And what was that?"

And then two things happened one after the other.

The first thing to happen was that his Second Sight saw a...flash. He could tell that it was relatively near, and he could guess the rough direction, but other than that most of his mind was consumed by the sudden panic of his Second Sight being so suddenly blinded. His jaw clenched and he started forwards slightly, hands clenching into fists. Whatever the Hell had done that, it had piqued his curiosity as much as it had lit his burning desire for self-preservation. For a brief eternity, the two warred with each other before an external factor settled the matter by itself.

The bell above the door tinkled as someone stepped inside. Isaac glanced at the woman who had just stepped inside, eyebrows raising in surprise as he did so. His Second Sight was still dazzled by whatever that flash had been, but the runes spilling out of her fingerless gloves were recognisable enough to him that he didn't need it to guess that she was a Mage. For a couple of seconds, Isaac memorised every identifying feature he could, noting the deep circles etched around her eyes and pale complexion before his eyes flickered back to Damilus and his mouth tightened. He doubted he was going to get a reply to his second question anymore, but he could still have the first one answered.
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Why is everyone a social justice warrior?
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Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Talchyon » Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:37 pm

Swith Witherward wrote:Taken from "Sailor Moon: Apocalypse", this isn't a pivotal scene. The writer, Spindle, has captured all the elements that make a post exceptional, IMHO. Isaac is three-dimensional. He breathes. His reactions are woven into the post rather than flatly stated. Spindle paints a complete scene.

Nicely done, Spindle. I hope to see more of your writing in P2TM.

I agree. I'm currently in another RP with Spindle, and appreciate this writer's contributions.
Last edited by Talchyon on Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Founded: Oct 27, 2012
New York Times Democracy

Postby Cerillium » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:29 pm

I frequently refer players to this post to serve as an example of how not to write for their powerful "McBadass" characters in an RP. It's taken from the training RP's OOC thread. The more I read it, the more I realize that it works well as a stand-alone "Exceptional P2TM RP Posts" piece.

Giovenith wrote:
Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third was very pleased to finally be moving into the intriguing Building he had heard so much about from diplomatic tales of far and wide. Being the scholarly and adventurous sort, it was obvious that he had little choice but to investigate, and was in fact sorely looking forward to taking a break from running his beloved homeland, The Unstoppable Badlands of Dictatoria, the greatest authoritarian regime the world had ever known.

Ah yes, Dictatoria. There was nothing about the fatherland that one could not pride themselves over from within or envy from afar. Every citizen young and old was enthralled in thorough devotion to their leader, himself, and, well, why wouldn't they be? Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third was a suave, dark, learned gentleman who was never caught off guard or perplexed, always walking about with a self-assured smile upon his lips and even had the decency to refrain from sighing whenever he calmly explained his superiority to upstarts. There was no question for which he didn't have the answer, no atrocity or battle plan with which he did not regard with total casualness, no extreme he did not see as merely an everyday reality of walking in his shoes. He was the man that Hitler and Napoleon and Stalin's bastard three-way love baby conceived in a mass grave on Halloween night aspired to be, and he looked damn good in a suit while doing it.

There was no dinner he attended that did not end in the successful invasion of the country hosted. His generals walked about with so many buttons and medals attached to their coats that he had to invest in cybernetic enhancements just so they could walk from one place to another. Men tripped over one another and punched babies for a chance to enter his eleventh official super soldier program thus far. Citizens were trained to walk in lockstep goose march everywhere from birth. His jeep had missiles that could destroy submarines. He had thirty nukes for every man, woman, and child. He had super undetectable satellite technology that spied on every household on the planet so he knew everything. He could turn into a wolf made of shadows and fire. He order genocides on superfrankguy173 from steam who trolled over the chat WHAT THEFU objectively impure people, because although he had never bothered to read any of Darwin's works, he had watched the Discovery channel a few times and was pretty sure they said that they deserved it for not being as strong and badass as him or something. It was science that he was better than you, you silly pacifistic crybabies! Ohohohoho! LAUNCH THE NUKES!

And all of Bielefeld was going to see that.

"Please sign here," Volker slid over the forms.

"Did I ever tell you about the time I conquered an entire dimension when I was only fifteen years old?" Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third asked with a smug yet calm smile, adjusting one of his medals. "They declared me the God of Fear and Destruction from their prophecies, but really, it was just a regular Tuesday testing about the newest-"

"That's nice, sir. Would you please sign?"

And so he did, loudly and proudly singing his nation's anthem as he did. Ah, finally his vacation could begin! Perhaps first he could mingle with the natives here? There wasn't a time he could remember when complete strangers weren't entertained listening to him talk for hours on end about how amazing his country was without interruption or break. Why, if they seemed nice enough, he might even let them have the honor of being intimidated with one of his guns! Everyone loved being demonstrated to how objectively less awesome than someone else they were! He had a feeling he was going to be quite the popular character here.

Not many people seemed to be out and about currently though, unfortunately, which was somewhat understandable given how early in the day it was. Listening carefully though, the leader thought he caught onto a conversation, and quickly made his way toward the source. The chatter lead him out onto the outside patio, where from his perspective, he glimpsed the backside of a little girl with white hair dressed in pink sitting at a table covered in a tea party set-up.

A sweet little girl! Those were always easy to impress. He could use a naive, charming admirer to demonstrate his fatherly side upon.

It was in walking towards the girl that something else entered his vision that made his heart stop: It was grey. It had four legs. It had wings. It had wide, expressive eyes filled with the basic calculation known only to sapience.

A ponyyyyyyyyyy...

The leader felt shooting pain fly up his legs as his knees hit the hard floorboards and he desperately tried to gag back the vomit that was building up in his esophagus. He flipped his head back and howled a great roar before punching several holes in the walls and floor around him and eating the bills that Demens rained on him. A PONY. HERE. HOW. WHAT. WHY. NO.


"And that's why I think people are just way too hard on kitsch," Giovenith wrapped up her explanation to Willow while stirring her tea. "I know we want to avoid giving too much credit to more vapid works, but at the same time, we can't assume something is vapid just because it's happy for the sake of being happy, y'know?"

"Mmmm," Willow dabbed at the lingering crumbs of chocolate cake around his mouth with a napkin. "I see where you're coming from, but you have to take into account the known effect that commercialization can have on-"

"YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!" a savage cry suddenly captured both artists' attention. They simultaneously snapped their heads to see a strange man dressed in gaudy, overdecorated military garb marching towards them, his fists clenched so tightly veins were popping out and an absolutely maniacal grin on his face. A single finger snapped at Willow. "YOU! YOU thought you could escape me here! BUT YOU WERE WRONG! HA HA!"

Giovenith turned to give a concerned look to her roommate. "Willow, you know him?"

"No...?" Willow said, looking back at her with an equally confused look.

"Oh, you do not know me..." Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third hissed while climbing atop their picnic table. "But I know YOU! I've seen your smoopy-woopy-coochy-foochy-cutesy-wootsy-mootsy-slimy PATHETIC face a million times beneath my boot!" He demonstrated by deliberating smashing his foot into what was left of their chocolate cake, smearing it all over the table cloth.

"Hey!" Giovenith cried, visibly distressed.

"What the hell's your problem?!" Willow put his hooves on the table and lifted himself up slightly.

"Don't come onto me, sun-worshiping heathen scum!" the leader of Dictatoria roughly shoved the stallion back into his seat with surprising force. "I am Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third! Conqueror of lands, epitome of the superiority of evil over good!" He fanned out his arms in sublime pose. "And if there is one thing I hate more than democracy and vegans, it's sapient equine slime like YOU!"

Giovenith gasped but Willow just raised an eye skeptically while rubbing the place where the leader had shoved his arm.

"You picked three things out of the entire world to hate the most, and you chose democracy, vegans, and ponies?" he asked.

"Yes!" the leader smiled simply, relaxing and straightening out his posture. "Allow me to explain..." He began to pace back and forth on the table, seemingly ignorant of all the cups and plates he was smashing and knocking over. "It's a man's world out there, and as such, it stands to simple reason that those who deserve to inherit it are those who best understand what it takes to reign as the apex. HOOWAH!" He struck a pose. "FIGHTING." He struck another pose. "STEEL." He struck another pose. "And of course, the proper physique!"

Willow wiped a smear of frosting the leader's posing had kicked in his face. "What is, 'the proper physique'?"

The leader scoffed. "Well it isn't obvious! Look at us..." He gestured between Giovenith and himself, the former of whom wasn't too happy to be grouped in with him. "... and look at you!"

"What's wrong with me?"

"Well for starts," he wiggled his fingers demonstrably. "We have hands, you silly moron. We can hold things, build and use tools, oppose our thumbs! You can't even shoot a gun!"

"I can hol-"

"SECONDLY!" the leader continued. "We are much taller. We can also swim, and climb, and fight!"

"So can-"

"NO TALKING WHILE I'M TALKING! Worst of all is your simpleton species philosophies," he scoffed. "Friendship? Magic? Happiness? Wasting your lives away in pursuit of childish ass tattoos and coddling the weak, flitter-flatter on your dainty little wings and do some levitation with sparkly pink magic? LOOK AT YOU! JUST LOOK AT YOU!!! Need I say more?"

"You're really starting to piss me off," Willow pointed slightly at him, narrowing his eyes.

"Yeah!" Giovenith rose to her friend's defense. "Willow can do a lot of those things you just said! And just because him and the ponies value nice things doesn't make them dumb or bad!"

Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third rolled his eyes and wiggled his fingers condescendingly. "Oooooooooo, I'm SO scared of a tiny little girl and an eternal-baby horse! I didn't know I'd be facing off against Rainbow Brite and Starlight! Do you even know what I do to your kind?" he sneered, leaning in towards Willow, who sighed.

"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell us," the pony rolled his eyes and propped his cheek on a hoof.

The ruler of Dictatoria smiled evilly and chuckled. "No, I'm going to show you." His hands flew to the front of his coat and ripped it open. "BOOM, BOY!!" The entire inside lining of his jacket was made from the pelts of flanks, the once-cheery cutie marks grimly brimming back at the pony, and clacking was heard as stringed horns and wing bones dangled about within.

"AHHHH!" Giovenith cried.

"Pffft, that could be fake," Willow dismissed, ever the Scully.

"Oh my actual god, Willow," the godling growled, attention momentarily diverted from the horror scene.

"Well," Emperor King Lord Sir General Nuke McBadass NotHitlerButHitler Awesome the Third reached further into his coat. "Is THIS fake?!" And he pulled out a bigass, heavy gun of indeterminable type and aimed it directly at Willow's face.

"SWEET CELESTIA!" the male artist finally gasped in genuine fear, pinning his ears and bringing his hooves to his mouth.

"YEAH I BET YOU THINK CELESTIA IS SWEET!" The dictator grinned. "Say good-bye, sugar-shit-"

CRASH! Pink porcelain shards and searing hot tea exploded against the back of the leader's head, causing him to fall forward (assisted by the massive weight of his gun), Willow flying out of the way just in time to avoid being squished. The gun landed to the side of him with a loud boom and the leader cried out in pain as his face scraped the pavement. He quickly got up to try and figure out what had just happened.


THWAP! The wide length of a heavy red purse with a flower clip collided into the side of his face. It's strap was wielded by Giovenith, who was standing above the tyrant looking about as frighteningly furious as a teenage girl dressed in pink could. Willow stood off some feet behind her, ears folded and body crouched slightly in astonishment and concern.

"You are a bad, bad man!" Giovenith yelled, nailing the dictator with the purse again. "How DARE you threaten my little pony like that! You should be ashamed of yourself!" She swiped the purse at him yet again. It knuckled into his cheek and snapped his chin to the left, leaving a dark bruise in its place.

The leader yelped in pain. "What the hell is in there?!"

Giovenith blinked, but still looked cross. "My pet rocks!" Another strike. "They're mad at what you said to Willow too! Apologize!" Strike.

"Are you insane?!" the man tried to block her strikes with his hands, but to little avail. "I'm not apologizing to some pathetic fucking- OW!!"

"You will apologize!" Giovenith added an extra arm to the strap to give her beating more momentum. "He may belong to Celestia but I blessed him with my favor! You don't touch him without invoking my wrath!" The young goddess' wrath came down again, leaving a daisy-shaped bruise against the leader's forehead.

"You won't know the meaning of wrath until I'm done with- OW, MY EYE!!" One of the buckles nailed him right in the peeper.

So this continued, with the once-mighty Dictator Among Dictators falling in classical tragedy form for his hubris in overstepping the patience of the gods. God. Five-foot-two Godling. Same deal. Giovenith may not have been ready to reign down curses and disaster on those who displeased her and molested her mortal favorites, but it was far from true that she did not have ways of making that displeasure known. And it was that fact that caused Willow to slowly stand full height again and erect his ears, slowly giving a lopsided smile as he watched true friendship prove itself once again in the most absurd way possible.
Last edited by Cerillium on Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.

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Postby Cerillium » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:50 am

This had really good pacing and flow.

Kaidou wrote:Shimonoseki, Japan

The Seventh Heralding Trumpet of the Threefold Seraph of the Revelations of St John wasn't a particularly large boat, and certainly not as grandiose as its name (written in Latin alphabets!) would have made it sound. Compared to the vast majority of the other boats docked at Shimonoseki's port, the little fishing boat was a little midget, and an old, decrepit midget at that.

Nonetheless, 62 year old Yūri Akabane took care of the vessel like his life depended on it. Like the boat was his own flesh and blood.

In some ways, it was. Back when he was 17 years old, when he and his family lived in a little house in Kanagawa, Akabane had built the boat from scratch, using whatever materials he could find, which he bought with the little money that he earned from doing crappy jobs off and on.

There was this old man who lived next door with a strange alliteration to his name. Shigeru Shigehara, or something like that. Didn't matter. He was a real bastard, that old fogey; every opportunity he got, he'd come out just to throw things at the boat, while poor Akabane had to run to escape the projectiles, which ranged from crushed papers to rotten fruits.

"Back during the war", Shigehara would scream, "we didn't have the time to do dumb shit like this!"

Whatever it was wrong with him building the ship, Akabane didn't know, and quite frankly, he didn't care. Nobody else was complaining, especially since the noise was rather minimal.

Regardless, he eventually finished the ship, and had been going sailing on it ever since. And Yūri Akabane was a happy man; his ship worked.

It worked, at least, until that sunny winter's day in the year 20-something, when he and his friends Gō Suzuya and Teppei Miura went on a little fishing trip. Miura, Akabane knew, was a famous sushi chef who sliced the most amazing fugu. As for the 60 year old Suzuya, neither Miura nor Akabane knew what he did. Something about groping people's feet and pressing on random points as indicated by some indecipherable Chinese chart, or something along those lines.

What happened that day was simple; the engine stalled. Akabane went down to check on it, while Miura stood on the deck, clad in a casual tweed suit and jacket, a tie hanging limply round his neck. Suzuya was sleeping; presumably, you needed to be wide awake to press people's feet.

A pigeon landed on the deck and took a dump.

"Nanishite'nda, omae?" Miura cursed at the pigeon, half-jokingly. Yūri Akabane was the ultimate bird hater. Ergo bird shit on his deck would never be acceptable. "Chotto sokorahen de kutabattekure, kisama!" ("What the hell are you doing? Just screw off.")

The pigeon didn't budge.

The sushi chef lunged forward and stomped his foot on the deck. The pigeon got the message and flapped off frantically.

And then the Seventh Heralding Trumpet of the Threefold Seraph of the Revelations of St John exploded in a ball of orange fire. And Teppei Miura the sushi chef, Yūri Akabane the shipbuilder, and Gō Suzuya the guy who earned a living by pressing people's feet at points indicated by indecipherable Chinese charts, were all blown to tiny little bits.

And then a dog on a nearby ship had a miscarriage.



Slimy. Slimy. Nurunuru nurunuru nurunuru nurunuru nurunuru nurunuru nurunuru. Slimy.

And Teppei Miura woke up.

He certainly didn't expect that. Last he remembered, he had been blown up while riding on a ship known as the Seventh Heralding Trumpet of the Threefold Seraph of the Revelations of St John, while on a relaxation session with those two blokes Akabane and Suzuya. And people usually did not wake up after being blown to bits in an explosion.

But Teppei Miura, 57 year old sushi chef from Shimonoseki, with a gleaming Michelin Star and the one-off patronage of the heartthrob singer Yuki Uchida and the late former Prime Minister Keizō Obuchi, among other things (that was a while ago, though), found himself experiencing quite the contrary.

He found himself sprawled across a small pebbly courtyard in a comfortably chilly castle setting, almost like one of those castles in a fantasy RPG. All around the courtyard were spruce trees trimmed neatly. The battlements were largely unmanned, and at the end of the courtyard was a tower which seemed similarly unmanned, save for a dim light coming from inside a room.

And then Miura wriggled his eyes in his sockets and found that he now had tentacles.

He screamed. For an octopus, the sound that came out still sounded very much human.

"What the hell am I???" And then Miura made the second great discovery of his 3 minute long life; formerly a bilingual who spoke Japanese and English (and perfect broken Mandarin), Miura now found himself speaking in a tongue he didn't understand before. Whatever that was, he reasoned, he seemed to be perfectly fluent in it. Then he decided to experiment a little.

"Dōshite konna koto ni?"

Still fluent in Japanese.

"Why is this happening to me?"

Still fluent in English.

"Wei he zhei ge fa sheng dao wo?"

Still hopelessly broken in Mandarin.

Then Miura realised, for the second time, that he had become one of the numerous marine animals he had sliced up for the gastronomic pleasure of, among others, the heartthrob singer Yuki Uchida and the late PM Keizō Obuchi.

And he screamed again.

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There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.

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Postby Torsiedelle » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:49 pm

I don't laugh too often at RP posts. This made me laugh. Also, I wouldn't have though to name a character "Fish-Sticks."

Syrixces wrote:Champion Fish-sticks

Ningen were not known for being terribly smart. In fact, they were a rather stupid lot, not a single Nobel prize winner among them. No, not even the fake "Peace" one. In fact, the Ningen had just barely mastered the art of the written language, an odd mixture of scratches, and circles, that an outsider might have even mistaken as Ancient Greek, if Ancient Greek was in fact a variety of Tic Tac Toe. There were some Ningen that pursued this course of knowledge, hunting down ancient secrets, and discovering new ways to express themselves and their culture.

Fish-sticks, was not one of them.

Champion Fish-sticks, which wasn't his name, rather, lived for the simpler things in life; battle, fish woman (if you're into that), and most importantly, his favorite food, skewered fish (or fish-sticks). As Champion, Fish-sticks lived a rather comfortable life, fights, and fish whenever he pleased. And now, some tiny outsider, some top-siding pink skin threatened his domain, his very way of life?

Somewhere deep inside Fish-stick's pee sized brain, lever switched. Fish-sticks was mad. As mad as a guy named Fish-sticks could be.

Roaring, the beast slammed his blade down next to Azazel, knowing that his foe would dodge away from the blade. Smirking, as much as his enormous barb like teeth allowed him to, he countered the dodge with the jagged bone and sinew of his mutilated arm, causing the Azazel to trip over himself, the mystical blade slipping from his grip, and clattered away into mist. Laughing, globules of spittle splattering across the rough concrete of the underground subway area, the beast raised it's massive, cleaver like blade in one hand, steadying himself with his stump, and pointed down at the stuck prone Azazel, readying to slam it down into its foe's chest. The beast raised the blade as high as it could, roared in delight, and slammed it down.


Look, Hyperion said, to the group, but in particular, Reisen, who had spoken out the most against his plan, I don't plan on cheating right away. These things may stick to their word. I just want a contingency in case of... Hyperion trailed off as he gazed towards the concrete ring below them, the beast's blade raised high above Azazel, ready to plunge down upon the unwitting Godling. Things like that. Shit! We need to get ready, in case this doesn't work out in Az's favor. Everybody, pitch in! We gotta get up there! Hyperion shouted, gesturing towards the subway car, leaning over the rafters above them.

Running towards the wall, Hyperion jumped up, just missing a handhold above him in the form of a ledge. It's gonna take almost all of us to move that damn thing, without our powers! Pat, help me up! Cade, Hecate, get up here! Once one of us is up there,
we can pull the rest of you up along the way! Come on, we gotta hurry! I don't know how much longer Az can handle that thing!
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Postby The Free Territory of Makhnovia » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:14 am

There is a great post by one of my players. Narrating international relations using style and tropes of pulp-fiction had never been easy. This is something else completely, deviating from things one can usually see in Nation RP-s
Plzen wrote:Cellar, Tsing-Hua Restaurant, Bar, and Tea House
British District, Shanghai International Settlement, Japanese Empire

Image credit to Adam Kuczek

"I think I hear shooting. Could you go check that out while I pry this dead moron off the equipment? Even in death he's annoying, damn."

"Sure thing, Sven. Don't drop it on your foot. I'm not being your personal nurse again."

Between the clashing power of the Japanese Empire and the British Empire, between the dual influence of European culture and Asian culture, and between the ancient civilisation and the latest technologies, lies the Shanghai International Settlement. In this vast horizon filled with homes and businesses, some twenty-seven thousand Scandinavian citizens have made their home. Most of them lived here, in the British District. It was a somewhat nicer and better maintained district, as it happens, than was really typical in Shanghai, but any European would have called it a slum with good reason.

"There's no blasted time! The constabulary is here, now! We need to get out of here!"

"...and waste a year's effort, Chang? I think not! Go ahead if you're so cowardly. Johanna and I can carry the equipment with us."

Theoretically, Scandinavia, as one of about a dozen treaty powers with co-jurisdiction in the city center, had the security of its citizens living within the borders of the International Settlement guaranteed by the Shanghai Municipal Council. Theoretically, the Shanghai International Settlement was ruled by no one nation and was a haven for men of all colours from every corner of the globe.


The cooling corpse of the engineer lay bleeding through his leather headgear into the wooden floor of the cellar. The smell was both overpowering and awful. Johanna peeked around the corner. The ping-ping of pneumatic gunfire greeted her. She turned back around quickly, and blindly fired all six rounds of her revolver down the corridor. Sven did slightly better. He picked up the mysterious device off the floor next to the engineer, and, with effort, rattled it out into the corridor. It was an experimental electric bunker assault coil, still somewhat fresh from the press in Detroit - such good weapons were hard to find in Shanghai, and was therefore in high demand with every criminal gang in the city. Unfortunately, it also weighed some thirty kilograms.

Everybody knew that the two Japanese members of the Shanghai Municipal Council mattered more than the other seven, of course. They didn't really care about Shanghai's residents, either. Especially not the foreign residents of the Shanghai International Settlement.

With the reckless negligence of the Shanghai Municipal Council, it was no wonder that the Shanghai International Settlement was such a centre of crime, and in the British District, the Tsing-Hua Tea House was the worst. It was technically a part of the Shanghai International Settlement, but fronted a road that led right into the French Concession and was rather close to the racecourse with its endless supply of alcoholics. The British soldiers of the garrison that were supposed to patrol this area were more likely to drop by and ask to rent a girl for a night than to actually arrest the bar owner, and the Americans... well, no sane American in Shanghai wanted to leave the American District. Not even the strong men of the 4th Marines.

"Well, you're not getting out that way. Hurry, we'll leave through the back alley. Before the constabulary makes their way through that corridor."

Johanna lifted the cover off her watch. The intricate clockwork told her that it was a little after eight in the evening.

"...and preferably before our ride leaves without us, too."

Legally, any Scandinavian citizen resident to or visiting the Shanghai International Settlement was subject to only Scandinavian law and SMC law. That, however, never stopped the Japanese from vigorously trying to enforce the Imperial Laws of Japan on foreign residents in Shanghai. This meant, among other things, that harsher punishments were levied upon Scandinavian criminals than was really appropriate by Scandinavian law.

More importantly, it also meant that the possession of armaments of any sort by private citizens were often "strongly discouraged" by the Japanese - a recommendation that they sometimes enforced through sheer intimidation and violence.

The creaky garbage collection door opened into the street. Sven struggled to pulled the machine up, with Johanna and Chang pushing from the inside. With a few seconds to spare, the three people disappeared into the French Concession.

As for the weapon?

The little machine stolen by a French shipping clerk from an American industrial company, then stolen by a Japanese criminal gang from the French shipping clerk, then by a corrupt officer of the Shanghai Municipal Police from the Japanese criminal gang, then by the Tsing-Hua Tea House from the corrupt officer, and finally by a couple of plucky Scandinavian petty assassins with a little help from a translator disappeared back into the night.

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Postby G-Tech Corporation » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:24 am

An interesting take on a modern man sent to the far past; this post I particularly enjoyed for its treatment of the moral quandary of modern sensibilities towards warfare and corruption in juxtaposition to a society where both were endemic.

Great Confederacy Of Commonwealth States wrote:The Nile
Just south of Thebes
Early morning

It was early in the morning when the ship of Amenemope peacefully slid through the waters of the Nile. To the east, a red sun was slowly rising above the horizon, signalling the start of a new day. Not only a new day, but an entirely new era. From the deck, Bruno could just make out the earliest of farmers labouring under the cover of dawn. Some were dragging modern ploughs along, others were digging canals from the Nile. Some were using the new water cranes to irrigate their lands. Everywhere he looked he could see the impact he had had on this society already. One of the peasants looked up from his labours, saw the boat passing by, and gave it a wave. Bruno, spotting this, raised his hand and waved back. Amenemope, just returning from plotting the course with the captain, came up beside him. For a moment, they stared at the red horizon.

“Thank you, Amenemope” Bruno said shortly. He had a lot to be thankful for. Saving him from the desert, for instance. Giving him land. Always covering him in conversations with others. Being a friend, helping him in Egyptian customs. And now, sailing him to the far southern edge of the kingdom, where he would take his military posting.

“Don’t worry” Amenemope said, patting Bruno on the back. “I will take care of your estate until you get back. Huy-Pinhas won’t get his dirty hands on them yet”

Bruno nodded thankfully, but remained silent. His face was devoid of emotions, his eyes just staring blankly into the distance.

“Are you alright?” Amenemope asked, already knowing the answer. That question was enough to break Bruno, who started sobbing uncontrollably. His voice was cracked, broken, accentuated with sighs and tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I could… have done… so much more, Amenemope” Bruno said, almost choking in the words as he spoke them. His legs gave out under him, forcing him to rest himself against the prow of the boat, sinking his hands into his face. It was a far cry from the man who had defended Amenemope in court, who had spoken at length about justice, and who had revolutionised agriculture in Thebes.

“There was so much I could do, things you have no idea of! Every second that passes, people die needlessly that I could have saved. I should… I should…”

He couldn’t finish that sentence. Amenemope sat beside him, placing an arm around his shoulders. He tried to comfort his friend, but didn’t know what to say. He hardly knew what he was talking about, either.

“People are generally opposed to change, Councillor” he said, pulling his friend close. “Those in power have little to gain from the status quo changing…”

“And now, I am condemned” Bruno said. “I detest war, Amenemope. Every death diminishes me. I am forced to take a thousand lives for the glory of some corrupt degenerate hundreds of kilometres away. Whether I win or lose, I am condemned”

“But this is the final straw” Bruno continued. His sobbing had stopped, making place for a determined stare into the void. He was grinding his teeth, breathing heavily.

“Huy-Pinhas had branded himself an enemy of me, an enemy of justice, and enemy of the people, and an enemy of progress. He has transgressed against the natural order. He has proven the current powers are corrupt to the core and beyond saving. I will… I will…”

Amenemope was scared by this sudden turn of character. He had known Bruno as an easy-going, friendly individual, who forgave rather than holding grudges. This was totally different. It seemed like a dark cloud had come over his friend, wreathing his face in shade. Amenemope didn’t know what to say for a moment, but then helped his friend up.

“You better take a rest, Councillor. You haven’t slept since yesterday morning. You can have my bed below decks” he said, supporting Bruno as they walked down to his cabin. All the while, Bruno was making incoherent noises, talking about ‘law’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘innovation’. Within minutes, he was fast asleep on the bed, allowing Amenemope to go back to the deck. He now stared back north, where Thebes was slowly disappearing from sight. He had always known that there was something different with his friend, more so than his eye colour being unusual. There was something beyond foreign about him. He shook his head and wandered off to the bow of the ship, looking towards the endless desert. He knew the future held something, and he knew this wasn’t the last he had seen of Councillor.

Southern border region
Late morning

A few days later, they arrived at Aswan. It was the southernmost point in the empire where the Pharaoh still held sway. Further south, beyond the First Cascade, there would be Nubian princes and warlords. The political situation was constantly volatile, very much because the war profiteering and land speculation going on. In the past 5 years, Amenemope had told Bruno, there had been 15 military governors governing the Aswan region, each being replaced by a more corrupt individual. The list of crimes went on without end: trade in army supplies, trade in weapons, black market racketeering, using the armed forces to extract value from local land owners… There even was speculation going on with the pay of the soldiers, meaning the soldiers hadn’t received pay in almost a year.

As Bruno stepped off the boat, an honour guard stood ready to greet him, along with a few dignitaries. The honour guard was not even close to deserving that name. They were armed with hide shields and spears, and didn’t even wear helmets. Worse, their discipline was non-existent. They looked around, talked to one another, and stood in the most ragged fashion. As Bruno descended from the ship onto the dock their gaze pierced him. They were curious who this new man was, this stranger than had suddenly been lifted to command. Following the rows of soldiers he arrived at the dignitaries, seated under a cover to shelter from the sun. Bruno bowed before these men, who stood up from their chairs to greet him in return.

“Greetings, Councillor” one of them said. “I am Pepi, governor of this region. These here…” he signalled towards the men standing behind him “are my aids and your officers. May we serve you well in the coming struggle”

Bruno looked at the men. He could hardly tell the officers from the bureaucrats. They were all dressed splendidly, all unarmed, and all as fat as fat could be, sweating in the morning sun. They looked bored and annoyed that their long period of peace and quiet had been broken by an order of Pharaoh. Bruno, who had tried to look stern to impress these men, now didn’t have to act at all. He was short in his reply.

“Very well. Is there somewhere we can talk?”

Governor Pepi bowed, and then nodded.

“Of course, sir. A friend of Huy-Pinhas is a friend of mine, after all” he said, signalling a few of his servants, who came to pick up his chair. The soldiers surrounding them began making a way through the crowd that had assembled around the docks, curious who this man was. Someone coming up from the north was always news in this frontier city, especially when they had been sent by their sovereign. Bruno thought about what the governor had said. A friend of Huy-Pinhas… The corruption of the priest of Amun had seeped all the way to the border, and apparently, this man was one of his cronies. This made things harder, but also easier. At least, morally. Walking for a few minutes, they arrived at the governor’s palace, an opulent monument to wealth in the otherwise poor border region. Bruno was taken to the sitting room, where he and the governor enjoyed the riches of his position. Fruits and food from far away, accompanied by musicians and Nubian slaves. The slave trade was also a source of much corruption here.

“So, any word from our friend-priest in Thebes?” the governor asked. “I tell you, I am grateful of him every day. Without him, I would never have sat here with you” he said in a grovelling tone. Apparently, he was under the impression that Bruno was some sort of agent of Huy-Pinhas. Not a strange thing to think, seeing as he appointed him to this post. Pepi didn’t know much of the politics in Thebes, Bruno fathomed. He decided to play along.

“The priest is very happy with your services” Bruno said. Being somewhat of an actor, this role came easy. Playing the outrageous was always more fun, especially when trying to trick someone. Pepi seemed happy to hear this. He didn’t seem like a very brave man, or a very smart man. He seemed to be in way above his head.

“Yes, yes…” he said, happily stuffing his mouth with a few grapes. “You see, I learned a lot from him. I know own a lot of land to the south of here… They are all for the priest, if he wants it. I’m not above sharing”

“I see…” Bruno answered. He looked around the room. It was lavishly decorated with painting, artwork and pottery, all seemingly very expensive. The slaves were beautiful as well. The men looked strong, and the women were exactly what a fat cat like Pepi would desire. Those would not be cheap.

“You have a lot of nice stuff here, governor” Bruno said, trying to pivot the conversation away from politics. That was impossible, as he would soon find out. The governor answered with a mighty grin.

“Yeah, another trick of Huy-Pinhas…” he said, prompting Bruno’s stomach to turn. “I… shave a bit off the top when the Pharaoh sends his gold to pay the troops. That part I give to the military”

He laughed at his own joke, and Bruno feigned a smile as well. It was half-feigned, at least. The governor was giving him the exact instructions on how to streamline the process of running the army. Bruno decided to make the most of his newfound role.

“Pepi, I see you have done quite well here. Even better than I would have thought. Tell me, who are the people in the administration who are… in for a reasonable argument, if you get my meaning?” Bruno asked, conjuring an almost evil grin. The grin was mirrored by Pepi, who seemed to be flattered by the compliment.

“You know what? I’ll give you a list of names. I spent a lot of effort creating a network. As I said, I am not above sharing”

Perhaps he thought he would be impressing Bruno, and thereby impressing Huy-Pinhas. Whatever the case, he was quite eager to show his work to this newcomer. Well, it would be his own funeral. Bruno just nodded thankfully.

“Thank you, Pepi. I would not be lying if I said the kingdom is forever in your debt”

Bruno was, in fact, not lying.

Royal military encampment
Outside Aswan
Late afternoon

A few hours later, following an excruciating dinner with the administrative top of the Aswan province, Bruno entered the military encampment just outside the city. This was the epitome of the disappointments of that day. The tents stood arranged in no ordered fashion whatsoever. There were no lanes, no roads, and no clear markings. Bruno got lost at least six times trying to get to his own command building in the centre of the encampment, which was actually far removed from the centre. The camp had naturally gravitated towards the city of Aswan, and there was no clear distinction between the two. Prostitutes and swindlers were everywhere, as were drunken soldiers and their bootleggers. The camp had devolved into a slum in its own right. Once Bruno had arrived at his command building, he took a moment to install himself in his new office, from which he could look out over the entire camp. The first fires were already being lit to begin cooking dinner, each tent seemingly having to fend for themselves in order to eat that night. Inspired by this sight, Bruno immediately got to work, taking a piece of papyrus to write down his thoughts.

“Order of business…” it said at the top. He wrote the document in Dutch, meaning no-one could possibly read it. It had been some time since he had written in the language, he felt, and he struggled with the spelling. He still thought in Dutch, though, which made everything easier.

“One: professionalising the officer core”
“Two: professionalising the supply train…”

Thus, he worked deep into the night, even when the soldiers outside were partying their hearts out.
TG if you have questions about RP. If I don't know the answer, I know someone who does.

Quite the unofficial fellow. P2TM Mentor specializing in faction and nation RPs, as well as RPGs.

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Founded: Jan 23, 2017

Postby Revlona » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:54 pm

An amazing post highlighting the reaction of officers in the imperial fleet to the extermination of a planet, really brings you down to earth and highlights to madness that is war.

Ormata wrote:

Captain Jionni Castaneda
ISD-Isaac’s Wrath
Terminus System

The Dp-20 signaled her surrender with what must’ve been a hand-cranked radio system, likely just a backup generator, the tractor beams bringing her closer before Imperial marines in their Zero-G suits storming the vessel. This stated, storming the vessel was a bit too extreme for the word; maneuvering to an airlock with turbolaser support was less impressive than rapidly whacking a fully-powered unfucked vessel.

They took control, if anything to prevent the more radical sections of the rebels from detonating the ship’s complement of missiles while the gunship was near the Isaac’s Wrath. Transferring said vessel’s crew over was a rather easy task, using the Sentinel-class Landing Crafts with a vacuum seal against an airlock to bring them over. For the most part the survivors wanted to leave the compromised ship, to survive, to help their comrades if they were injured.

The engineers rapidly decided that the frame of the gunboat was both bent and broken in the aft sections and as such set-about to remedy their issues. Some few of the DP-20’s weaponry had remained intact despite the damaged; this included four laser cannon turrets and the entirety of the ship’s missile launchers as they were heavily concentrated in the forward compartments of the warship. Seeing an opportunity Captain Castaneda ordered the weapons salvaged from the Corellian rapidly, cut from hull and scrap metal with plasma torches. Meanwhile, those damaged fighters were towed back to the hangar bays, enemy pilots put in the Brig and the ships computers under interrogation. Granted, technicians were sorting through the DP-20’s Nav and other systems already, seeing what their crew hadn’t deleted, but more sources were generally better.

Two hours had passed with good progress made, the laser cannons of the gunship off of her and in the hangar, the mechanics working on the missile systems. While it wasn’t standard practice, it was far better than any other options. Attempting to fix it was a lost cause; the back was broken and any hyperdrive would tear the Corellian to shreds. This method was far more profitable.

Jionni was upon the Bridge when the call came-through.

“Sir, the Oblivion has raised the Fleet...ordering to begin positioned for immediate Base Delta Zero.”

It was silent; most of his officers were newly-minted, fresh out of the Academy, or of the old school. They hunted pirates, dammit, dregs of society who were easily found as the enemy of all, the enemy of civility and civilians. Destroying civilian centers, killing a planet’s worth of innocents...that wasn’t what someone signed-up for ever. They wanted to kill pirates, protect friends, serve something better than themselves. Jionni wanted to help civilians, dammit, bring order to it all, bring security to it all.

“Inform the Oblivion of our inability to participate due to repairs underway. Also, close the windows for out prisoners and triple security on Deck Five.”

“Aye, sir.”

It was still quiet, most there looking down at their consoles just to not look-up at the death of a planet, and it nagged on Jionni. The question wasn’t whether or not it was moral; it clearly wasn’t. Bombing a world until absolutely nothing lived or could live there, until the atmosphere burned-away, that wasn’t moral by any stretch of the imagination. The question, asked for the first time by the Captain, was far better.

What would happen next?

The rebels would step-up their efforts, feeling the pressure and possibility of more planets, wishing to stop the Empire even more rapidly, believing themselves and their message to be at stake. Tarkin’s Doctrine of fear was one that didn’t work in practice; if the people are in terror, afraid of what you are, some always rose-up in Jionni’s opinion. Those always inspired others. Once they strengthened those efforts, the Empire would become more extreme on the people, crack-down on those attitudes or any idea not their own. They would become close-minded, more than ever. In that scenario, that eventuality, Jionni and most of the crew would flounder and fail. They’d developed a different style of what one was supposed to do with the enemy, who the enemy was, a different view of seeing war and soldiers, fighters and death. It wouldn’t be good for anyone, he thought.

Lieutenant Leah Pearce
ISD-Isaac’s Wrath
Terminus System

The XO sat in her quarters, eyes closed and sitting on a seafoam green mat. The lighting was dim, yet even then, with the furnace of Terminus’s sun just outside, one could see her form rocking, back and forth with just an undershirt and shorts on. Officers had blessed free time, you see, and this was one of those moments.

She needed to not think.

Don’t think of the seventeen men and women lost, the letters she had written before, testifying to the idea that they were, indeed, good people. Don’t think on Private Mata whose harsh laughter filled a room, who she once, twice, perhaps three times played Bolo-Ball with in the hangar, whose smile was bright and glorious, whose body was torn to literal shreds in the strike. Don’t think on how the ribs stuck-out from her like glass shards, how the flesh hung there in little strands and the pulpy mass that was once a throat. Don’t think on that image, that failure.

Don’t think.

Leah could still see the face of Caturno, a Technical Sergeant fresh from school who always bore a nervous little smile because he never got used to Officers being people. He didn’t have a jaw when they found the corpse, floating through space.

Don’t think. Think on something else. She whispered-out a prayer, something in a language no crewman could understand, the noise like thick rolls of harried thunder. She focused on the words, each one flowing into the very next, and pon a whim, a thoughtless impulse, Leah’s hands began to wring, passing one over the other, one over the other, never ending.

Don’t think about it. Don’t think of those enemy pilots or the crews being sucked into vacuum. Don’t think of the cold bodies floating in space, little statues against the planet’s surface. Don’t think of those burned alive in the explosions, dead from slow suffocation, or the rest. Don’t think of the enemy because there might be people behind the mask, because then you might feel emotion. She’d heard them as they died.

Don’t. It was a harder thing to do than it sounds. She looked-about for something to do, some scrap of distraction, and thought on the ongoing repairs. Damage control had vented the deck some hour-and-a-half prior, killing the fires, though breaches still lined the hull. Internal structuring had been found to be somewhat damaged, meaning they would have to go into drydock, but…

Something froze her, a scream echoing as though it were down the hall, yet it couldn’t be there, no; it was a scream in the same way as laughing in your mind was laughter. Leah’s eyes shot-open as the scream turned into another and another and another, a chorus of fear that had no direction or escape. The XO turned frantic, looking-about for some source, the neat little stack of black uniform overturned to check the comm piece, to see if it was on. It wasn’t. Her eyes jumped-about the room, dancing on every item, trying to think of what could be making the screams, what could be the source, until they darted over the window.

Tell a child something, anything. Tell it to them every night and day, directly or indirectly, tell it in a song or story or culture, tell it and show it in the world. Hide the child away from anything that might disagree, always, and never blur that little line. Surround them with nodding heads, smiling faces, and never contradict.

Then betray that core principle, that something.

She looked down and could see the Imperial fleet, those Star Destroyers once identified as symbols of the Empire, of order and justice, raining-down fire onto the planet’s surface, and she could not tear those noises from her head. Millions, billions died there and Leah could hear them, could see them, each and every one, and wanted it all to stop.

Beat your head into the wall, tear at your hair and skull to rip the thoughts out, breathe-away to try to calm yourself, but the screams never stopped. Tears welled in her eyes and a ragged breath came; those people were civilians, dammit, some may be guilty yet there would never be enough for this. There could never be enough for this. That method, planetary bombardment, that wasn’t the method or tool that one would ever use as a weapon of fear.

It wasn’t a weapon of fear.

Leah cried herself away, cried until tears were mere memories. She cried and listened to the screams until there was no more to bear, and slipped-away into darkness. Before she slept, screams there, one might have heard a little thing if they were awake.

"Who I am is not important, my message is."

So ended the Battle of Terminus.

Quad laser Cannons Salvaged (4)
Concussion Missile Tubes Salvaged (4)
Double Turbolaser Cannons Salvaged (2)
Cutlass-9 Captured (1)

    Missile Strikes
      3x Nebulon-B Destroyed
      1x DP-20 Damaged, Heavy
      18x Cutlass-9 Destroyed
      1x Cutlass-9 Damaged, Captured
    Isaac’s Wrath - Imperial-II Frigate - Damaged, Heavy
      Charyboym - Sentinel Gunship - Damaged, Light
      Tririyam - Sentinel Gunship

      Kilo - 10x TIE/IN - 2x Damaged
      Viktor - 10x TIE/IN - 1x Damaged
      Echo - 10x TIE/IN - 1x Damaged
      Delta - 10x TIE/IN

      Zulu - 10x TIE/sa, 5x TIE/IT
Lover of doggos

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Founded: Sep 06, 2017
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Segral » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:49 pm

A post I love a lot.

New Finnish Republic wrote:

As the jet soared through the air, Red was already busy at work scanning through the small tablet that served as his mobile information relay. While it was much more secure than the average device, he still didn't like normally bringing it along on missions just in case the device fell into the wrong hands, but given the fact that they were more or less going into this thing blind Red had little other choice but to use it. As Naja filled them in on just who they were dealing with, Red was busy pulling up the various files of information he had on each of these villains, searching for any weaknesses that could be exploited in their upcoming fight. Busy in his own thoughts, Red barely recognized the sound of Roy trying to give a small pep-talk before they reached their destination.

In terms of who's off the table for consideration, I know that Weatherman is beyond limits. Simply put, his power would be too much for me to try and take on as I doubt the hurricane level winds would let me either land a shot or get close enough to try anything else. Same goes with Thunderstruck, as his between his suit and resilience to electricity my gear won't be able to do much at all. At least in terms of actual malice these two were relatively harmless, meaning I'll feel a little better with letting them roam around for a bit.

The two I'm concerned about is Dante and Marionette. For the former, she is by far the most dangerous in my opinion. Just because she hasn't made use of any biochemical weapons yet doesn't mean she still couldn't. Still, if she was wanting to kill everyone in the zoo she'd set up her devices and detonated them without the help of the others, which means it's likely that she's not planning on anything too severe. At least in that sense she's predictable.

Marionette, on the other hand, is the one I'm most concerned about. She's the wildcard of the bunch, and the one that will likely cause the most death out of any of the four. She's an attention seeker in the worst of ways, so much that leaving a trail of bodies is fine by her if it means someone tries to stop her. Out of anyone here, I'm probably the best equipped to take her on. It might not be the most heroic way to go at it, but I should be able to put enough bullets into her that she'll unable to heal the damage quick enough.

As the plane landed, Red allowed himself to take a deep breath before stepping out with the others. Not one to waste time, he immediately began to make his way across the park. The others fanned out as well, some going in groups while others went on their own. Familiar with working on his own, Red decided that the latter option was the best approach for him. He was used to patrolling the streets of San Diego undetected by the criminals that infested in it, thus making it relatively easy to stay hidden as he made his way to the Northern areas of the zoo. Occasionally he'd find a civilian hiding in fear, in which Red would further frighten them as he practically appeared from nowhere only to then reassure them that he was here to help. He'd send them on their way towards back to where it was safer, receiving timid thanks as they rushed to where he pointed out.

Eventually, Red found himself in what he recognized as the Northern Frontier region of the zoo. Unlike before, this area seemed completely deserted, devoid of any sound outside those belonging to the various animals who were in a panic due to all the commotion. With no sign of activity, he was about to leave when his eyes suddenly noted the all too familiar sign of blood being splattered over the entrance to what Red recognized as the Polar Bear exhibit.

Realizing he was too late, Red silently cursed before making his way over to the building. Within a few feet of the door laid the shredded remains of what he guessed to be a security officer. Based on the laceration wounds and the sheer brutality of the death, Red knew exactly who he was dealing with.

Careful not to step in what remained of the deceased man, Red slowly crept through the interior exhibit. Various belongings littered the floor around him, a clear indication of how the visitors had been so scared for their lives that they had forsaken whatever items they had been carrying during their escape. Unfortunately, Red was met with the sight of yet another dead body, this one cut clean in half at the waist. While he'd seen his fair share of mutilated bodies in the past, the sight still made Red shudder.

He was about to report his findings when his headset crackled to life with the voices of his teammates. It seemed that both Dante and Thunderstruck had been found, which now only left Marionette's exact position unknown. However, based on the fact that the blood looked fresh, Red could bet that she was nearby.

Red reached up to his headset, about to relay the information about the scene before him when his hand was suddenly stopped short. At first confused, he tried to reach over with his other hand, only to find that it too was immobile. Looking down, he realized that a thin red thread was wrapped around his entire body, trapping him in place. It was then when he suddenly was greeted with the sound of footsteps followed by a laugh that chilled him to the bones.

Dressed in an outfit that belonged more on a Barbie doll than a villain, a girl about Red's age approached him leisurely. An eyepatch covered her left eye while curly blonde hair flowed down nearly to her waist. While she at first seemed to possess the elegance that would befit a fashion model, she wore a smile that practically screamed out malicious intent.

While hard to see, Red noticed several lines of thread originating from her fingertips, no doubt the ones currently keeping him locked in place while she walked up to him. She seemed to be amused at the sight of him in his helpless state, no doubt feeling a sense of pleasure as she reveled in playing the villain. She circled around him a few times before eventually stopping in front of him.

Getting up on her tippy toes, she placed her face right next to his. He could sense the scent of fresh strawberries on her, no doubt her perfume that she likely applied before coming here. She made no effort to try and avoid physical contact as she did, one hand on his chest while reaching up towards his headset with the other. She gave him a small wink before pressing the transmission button on the device.

"Your bad boy here is going to be busy for awhile. He's a little...tied up at the moment."

She glanced up at Red, giving him a coy smile before speaking into the headset once more.

"Be sure to hurry up before I end up taking him home with me...or at least what's left of him."

And with that, she suddenly crushed the device in her hands. Red understood exactly why she had done this, and it didn't reassure him one bit. She wanted the others to get worked up over what she was doing, thus getting all of that attention she so desperately seemed to need. The positive side to this was that she'd likely keep him alive for at least some period of time. The bad news would be if nobody could find them and she got bored. If that happened, Red could only imagine the outcome wouldn't be good on him.

His morbid thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Marionette's finger beginning to trace its way down his jaw. Looking at her, he couldn't help but at least appreciate the beauty that the girl possessed, albeit akin to that of a Black Widow. Her breath betrayed the scent of mint, almost like she had just gotten done chewing an entire container of Ice Breakers. The smell of strawberries once again filled his nose, causing his still adolescent mind to nearly short circuit as his hormones dictated he dedicated all his attention to the girl before him. His brain more or less agreed, although this was due to the fact that he saw not the look of attraction from this girl but one of a cat playing with its food. Indeed, when she spoke to him, her voice almost sounded like a playful purr.

"So what did I do to have someone like The Mask come my way? Or should I call you Red, as your friends do? Or better yet, Austin?"

Red couldn't help but let his jaw drop at that. His reaction only caused a fit of laughter from the girl. After a few seconds, she seemed to recover from it, albeit with a playful grin on her face.

"Oh, you're wondering how I know your little secrets? Well, that's a little secret for me to know, and for you to never find out. That is, however, unless you'd be interested in doing me a little favor."

Red had too many questions going through his brain to know how to properly react, but he at least knew enough that entertaining the girl was still his best chance for survival. He'd play along, even if he didn't want to.

"And what would that be, Marionette. Or should I say, Miss Aveline?"

The sound of her actual name seemed to both surprise and amuse the girl.

"It appears I'm not the only one doing their homework, I see."

Red managed to put a grin on his face after the compliment.

"Trust me, I get all A's on my homework too."

The girl chuckled before seeming to get serious, although serious was hard to describe someone as eccentric as herself.

"So, to our little deal. You see, I like playing around with all of you superheroes. I think there's nothing more satisfying than watching the world on the brink of disaster only to find it saved at the last minute by a dashing hero. The thought of it gets me way too worked up, to tell you the truth."

Indeed, the girl was practically squirming in apparent delight at the thought. Red's reports on her obsession with heroes, so much in fact that he thought the reports didn't do her near the justice that they deserved. If he lived through this whole ordeal, he'd be doing quite the update. If I live is the key, he thought before continuing to listen.

"But the problem is that you heroes are too by the book with things. While it's fun to see you guys battle it out with other freaks, what I'd really like to see is one of your own end up betraying their own morals and doing things you heroes consider taboo."

Red an eyebrow at this, knowing where she was going with this. However, he continued to entertain her and responded.

"What's that supposed to mean? No more capes and spandex?"

Marionette's smile disappeared, instead replaced by one of utter seriousness. Compared to before, this was probably the most frightening of them all.

"You should know exactly what I mean, bad boy. Killing those scumbags who aren't even worth the air that they breath. The rapists, the pedophiles, the murderers, and the drug dealers. Bad people, you know?"

Red stared at the girl, somewhat confused as to what she had said.

"You know that would put people like you on the top of the list to knock off, right?"

The girl's usual smile returned, brighter and more malicious than ever.

"Indeed it would. But personally, I don't think any of you so called heroes have the balls to do it. Quite frankly, it pisses me off!"

Red felt the threads around his body suddenly tighten as she stomped her foot at the last bit. Thankfully, she seemed to regain her composure, causing the threads to relax once more, although still restraining him.

"In particular, there's one superhero I'd like see fall. I think you call him Nightshade, am I correct? Or should I go into some more personal details?"

Red couldn't help but bit his lip when she mentioned Roy. Sure, having Wonder Boy end up going rouge would definitely be something to see. But he doubted the guy would ever find himself doing that, regardless of the situation. Keeping the grin on his face, Red did his best to try not to piss the girl off further.

"I don't think that's needed, thank you. But if you know so much about Wonder Boy, you've got to realize that he wouldn't ever end up going into borderline villain territory. It's annoying as hell, but the guy's too good hearted for that kind of stu-"

It was then when the girl place a single finger on his lips, silencing Red in the process. She let out a disapproving tch-tch noise, wagging her finger as she did.

"I know that already, but there are certain things one can do in order to make even a Saint sin. You just have to know what buttons to press. Buttons that I believe you can press."

Red furrowed his eyebrows, utterly confused on what this girl was meaning.

"Buttons only I can press? What the hell does that mean?"

Marionette simply grinned, reaching for one of Red's gun, slowly pulling it out while keeping her uncovered eye on him as she did.

"It's pretty simple, actually. You just get someone he thought he trusted to go kill one of his best friends. And it just so happens that you are just the kind of guy who could do that."

Red's grin disappeared after that. What this girl had just implied meant that the time for entertaining was over. His sarcastic tone was now replaced with one of utter seriousness.

"And you think I'd do that? I hate to break it to you, but I'm kind of done with that sort of work. Besides, as much of an asshole that I may be, I still have enough self respect not to do something so...awful."

This statement only caused Marionette to once again explode into laughter. After a bit, she eventually got to the point to where she could speak again, although needing to wipe a tear from her one exposed eye.

"Oh really now? You see, I'd beg to differ. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you're more or less a prisoner on parole right now. Every single thing you do is put under heavy surveillance, and the slightest hiccup will put you behind bars. You're about as free as these animals in the zoo, if you ask me."

Red could only stand there, stuck in place, silently as her words repeated in his ears. He hated to admit it, but she was right. While he was able to live a "normal" life, every single move he made was under scrutiny, and should he break the rules he'd have professional heroes themselves throwing him into chains for the rest of his life. That remained a constant fear for Red, and likely would remain one for possibly forever.

His silence seemed to only reaffirm Marionette's thought, which seemed to please her greatly. She leaned her face in so that it was merely inches away from his. For a third time, the smell of mint and strawberries filled him, causing his hormones to make his brain practically do a backflip in excitement.

"So what do you say, Red? How about I let you go, making it look like you fought me off, and then when you get back to your home base you find a good opportunity to put a bullet into back of that little nerdy kid's skull? After that, you can come work with me and together we can have all kinds of fun together. "

Red stayed quiet for quite some time before a small smile began to make its way onto his lips. He looked at Marionette, who seemed happy that she had indeed finally caught her prey. She slid his gun back into his holster, making sure to maintain as much physical contact during the process as she could.

"I can't really pass an opportunity off a lifetime, now can I? So how about we loosen these restraints?"

Marionette pursed her lips, once again wagging her finger while making a disappointing tch-tch noise.

"Not quite yet. I'll have to make it look convincing that you tried to escape, you know? I hate to do it, but I'm going to have to rough up that pretty little face."

Red feigned being hurt by the words before giving her a sly grin.

"Can I at least get a kiss before then?"

A small hint of red briefly appeared on Marionette's face at the request.

"I suppose I can at least give you some type of payment in advance."

She closed her remaining eye, and slowly began to move her lips towards Red's. The sight was something that most guys could only fantasize about, but here it was, right in front of Red. His hormones seemed to be practically screaming in delight as he slowly moved his lips towards hers as well. He could tell she was a bit nervous, possibly indicating that this may have been her first true kiss.

The thought of that made Red feel just a bit guiltily when he suddenly snapped his head forward, smashing his forehead against hers with an impact that would make the NFL blush.

The blow caused Marionette to stumble backwards, pain radiating across her head as the attack took her completely by surprise. As Red hoped, this surprise attack caused the threads restraining him to loosen up enough that he could reach for a knife and cut through the threads. They were a lot tougher than he could have imagined, but his knife was able to do the trick. He had just freed himself when the Marionette spoke up, her usual upbeat cheerful voice now replaced with one filled with rage. A small amount of blood trickled from her nose, and a large bump was beginning to form where their foreheads had violently met.


That threat was all it took for Red to jump behind a pillar, just in time as the spot where he stood practically exploded as a barrage of threads pounded the spot. He couldn't help but whistle in disbelief at what he was about to go up against as he loaded two fresh magazines of live ammunition into his sidearms. He waited for a brief second before rolling on the ground away from the pillar, just in time as it was sliced clean in half by Marionette's threads. Now missing a key structural component, the ceiling above began to slightly sag, something that would be crucial in Red's escape plan as he tossed several explosive charges around both the ceiling and the additional pillars. As soon as they landed, Red pressed the button to his detonation device.

The resulting explosion caused a good portion of the building to collapse, but Red knew better than to stick around and watch it all unfold. This wasn't meant to defeat Marionette. Instead, it was merely a means of cover for his escape as he sprinted back towards where he hoped the others were still at. He doubted he'd be able to completely lose her, but if he could get enough of a head start to stay out of range of her threads that would be more than enough.

Indeed, after only a few seconds of sprinting Red could hear a volley of insults being directed at him as well as several items. With the agility that even Olympians could dream of, Red managed to dodge these oncoming objects as well as even pop off a few shots in her direction, the impact of the bullets somewhat causing her to slow down but still maintain hot pursuit.

As he loaded in a new magazine, Red couldn't help but yell back towards the girl.

"I think I should've waited until after that kiss! Maybe we can try again after I have that little thread of yours yanked out of you! I bet you'd look great in an orange jumpsuit!"
yea bro idk

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Founded: May 05, 2016
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Talchyon » Fri Apr 27, 2018 5:59 am

This is a post from the superhero academy RP, Are We Heroes? Novum Saeculum. In it, the main character, Nick, has the powers of knowledge gathering. Nick has just discovered a secret that may undo the academy, and has run into a member of the faculty who has similar powers. I am recommending this post because Valloria hits everything very well. The descriptions, the tension, the timing and the personality of both Nick and Cypher make this a great post. Highly recommended.

Valloria wrote:Nicholas Fowler, aka Hades
Flashback to Friday

Friday had not been good to Nick. First, he'd woken up late — he owed that to a long night of heavy drinking with Whitney and Molly — to find that his crepe had not at all held up well, the whipped cream had made both the fruit and the crepe itself incredibly soggy. Then, after reluctantly throwing out the spoiled remains of his meal, he found that the fridge did not have nearly enough material to make another. Exhausted and unwilling to put any effort in, he opted for the mediocre pre-made food served at the buffet. As all the others had finished their food, he ate his sad-looking waffle alone. Black circles hung heavy below his eyes, and his cheeks were more hollow than usual. It made him seem gaunt, but he satisfied himself by musing that such a look was probably 'in'.

He ended up six minutes and thirty-seven seconds late to tactical operations, which he hated every second of. He liked Holland in Ethics and Law, but Tactical Ops wasn't his deal. The forty minute monologue about information gathering had absolutely no bearing on him: his power did it for him. It didn't help that the second half of class consisted of stealth training, which Nick had decidedly not come dressed for. He made a fool of himself, his Chelsea boots noisily clacking on the floor as he attempted to sneak up on a classmate as part of one exercise, and his skinny jeans constricting his ability to wriggle across the floor in another. He wasn't a fan of lying on floors anyways, especially considering he was wearing a nice canvas jacket.

Disappointed that he looked both like a fool and a priss in front of his friends (especially Whitney), he resigned himself to fading into the back of the group for the rest of that class. Lunch was a welcome relief, but he wasn't particularly hungry for the first half of it. Nick decided a walk would be nice, but halfway back from his jaunt, the skies opened and he was completely drenched. Shivering and soaked by the time he got back to the Academy, he missed his opportunity to eat — instead spending the last half hour of lunch break hurriedly throwing his wet clothes in the dryer, showering, blowing his hair, and getting redressed. Miffed at the morning's events, he arrived grumpy to Justice.

He sat down, barely paying attention to the three hour lecture on how to maintain the moral high ground. Christ, could this guy get any more preachy? Nick said to himself, grumbling silently at the self-righteous Professor Weinkauf's lofty rhetoric and monotone voice. It almost reminded him of the attendance scene from Ferris Bueller. With only 17 minutes left on the clock, Nick decided he'd have a little fun investigating his dear teacher. Weinkauf seemed like the bookish art history teacher that his looks and powerset suggested. But once he scratched the surface, things got very interesting very fast. He peered into the professor's eyes, focusing intently on drawing the deepest of results from him.

Sifting through thousands of images — a college transcript, ARGUS reports and summaries of his powerset and capabilities, employment contracts, bank account statements, what he ate for dinner last night — Nick finally arrived on something unusual. Not because of the contents — they seemed fairly dry, reminding him of the sort of contextless message two old friends would exchange. Nick sorely wished his power extended beyond the objective. But no, only the solid, physical facts existed for him. But what had struck him as unusual about the message was the leaps he could take from it. Despite the fact that it wasn't forwarded to Headmaster Nantz, he could start investigating Nantz from it, which could only mean that Nantz had seen it at some point.

Searching deeper, it quickly became clear that Weinkauf had printed the message out and given it to Nantz. Because he was merely looking at Weinkauf talk, his power was starting to show the very first signs of fuzzy information and Nick doubted he could figure out anything concerning the interaction itself. It also seemed to be slightly shielded from him. That, Nick could understand. He'd discovered on his first day that Paladin's office walls had an athenium-oxide inner layer, dulling the effects of powers on anything going on inside — much like a Faraday cage. He decided that investigating Nantz through the printed-out email would be folly, and moved away from the Nantz angle.

The fact that Weinkauf had printed the email still troubled him. Even though he seemed old-school, with his rolled-up paintings and dinky statuettes, he wasn't the type to hand-deliver an email unless it was serious. All he could find on Don Troiani was some Civil War paintings, which drew him back to Weinkauf's power. It confirmed that whoever sent it was familiar with the Artisan. Very familiar, if it merited a hand delivery and a discussion with Nantz. In Nantz's reinforced office. The second part of the message was still a message. Coordinates, obviously; to some lesser uninhabited island in the South Pacific, one of Australia's holdings. Uninhabited, according to his power's access to the Australian government's census data.

That's weird, Nick thought, confused at why his power was telling him that Phillip Island (as it was called) was in fact populated. And then it dawned on him. This was Phillip Island. A chill ran down his spine. The contents of the message clearly did not fit together to the inexperienced observer. It was meant for Weinkauf, by someone who knew him. It didn't ring particularly friendly either, with the inclusion of the Academy's location. It seemed almost threatening, in fact. He began investigating the possible origins of the email, and everything made a little more sense. It was Weinkauf's son, a man named Paul. But when Nick tried to find more about Paul, something odd happened.. It was like he'd made five leaps with his power rather than only two. Shocked, he returned to his Professor.

Deeply searching into the senior Weinkauf, he came up with scraps. Besides what the elderly professor wanted you to see, there was very little. Curious. He reluctantly returned to the son, not wanting to risk a nosebleed or a migraine with another round of shock overleap. Searching for a moment, he found nothing. All of the sudden, there was something. He could barely make it out, but his power was telling him one thing for certain: Paul was involved in something a lot bigger than himself. A lot bigger than the Academy. And by the looks of it, at least what he could see, that something was not kosher. Nick pressed further with his power for a moment before suddenly, everything became unfocused.

Nick felt woozy. He stood, halfheartedly raising his hand to signal a trip to the bathroom, and ran off. As soon as he got to his room, he vomited into the toilet. The migraine was coming on full force now, clouding his vision and rendering him unable to stand. Afterwards, Nick reckoned he'd been lying on the bathroom floor for at least two and a half hours. He didn't make it to his first range training class. At dinner, freshly showered and dressed casually in grey sweats and an AC/DC tee, he arrived to questioning looks from some of his classmates. When he sat down to eat with Molly and Whitney, he broke into a wide grin at their concerned expressions. It wasn't like him to just miss a class.

"Relax guys, I just got my period. I bled through my only clean pants, but its okay now." He chuckled at his ridiculous aside and started picking at Whitney's salad. His mind was still swirling with the day's events. He resolved to approach Nantz tomorrow in his office, before the trip to mainland Australia his powers told him was in the flight plan for the Academy's private dropship. Nick hoped everything would become more clear in the morning.

Nicholas Fowler, aka Hades
Saturday Morning

Well-rested after the previous day's ordeal, sleep had given Nick valuable perspective on the whole situation. He was even more confident in his desire to speak to the Headmaster about what his power told him. Being the relentlessly logical person that he was, he went over all the possibilities of how the meeting would go in his head around a thousand times as he got dressed. He'd emailed Paladin that morning asking for an appointment, but had yet to receive a reply. He figured there was only so many students, he'd be able to pause his paperwork for news of this magnitude. Today, he knew they were supposed to go to the mainland. Brisbane, or Sydney; he didn't exactly remember. Unlike with things he learned rote, information his power supplied him was more liable to fade given time.

He shrugged on a leather jacket over his black collarless polo and black jeans, admiring himself in the mirror. He'd shaved the previous day, sporting a bare-faced look, his sharp diamond-face jawline casting shadows on his neck. He'd had a late-night realization the previous evening that no one at the Academy had seen him cleanshaven and decided to change that. Rubbing the stubble that was coming in on his cheek, he broke away from his reflection and headed downstairs into the common area. He saw an unfamiliar dropship that, upon investigation, revealed it had carried Cypher, Animus, and Wayhu to the island. Shocked at the sudden celebrity visit, Nick decided to grab breakfast before speaking with Nantz and asking around about the ship.

Entering the cafeteria, he found it to be completely empty, except for one student, a boy, sitting in the corner near the entrance. Nick nodded at him, and he looked up. Joseph, Nick thought, flashing a friendly smile. He walked a little closer to his classmate and stopped just short of the table. "Hey man, d'you know what's up with Cypher being here?"

"He's the one funding the school, so maybe he just wanted to swing by and check on his investment." Joseph said without looking up from a phone he cobbled together with spare parts. "Or it could be because there was a breach in the school's security system and an email from an unauthorized source suddenly appeared yesterday." Joseph looked up, and gave Nick a grin and held up the phone in his hands that was streaming some jumble of code. "I was poking around with the Academy's computers, for Thursday's challenge, and happened to pick up the strange activity."

Nick went cold with fear for a moment. He was unsure whether he should give up his knowledge or play dumb. He wasn't a fan of lying, but at the same time, this could be something big. He'd rather speak to Nantz before he made mention if it to anyone else.

"Ooh, fun," Nick feigned surprise and interest. He grabbed a chair and sat down opposite Joseph. "What else ya find?"

"Nothing really. I found the security cameras, and an actual weapons system buried in the front yard. You know, usual things you find at a school." Joseph said with a sighing smile. "Are you going with the group to the mainland?"

Nick snorted at his joke. "Oh that's pretty cool. Yeah, I found the weapons system a little while back, snoopin' around. You know." Nick paused to overact a wink. "And yeah, I'm fixing to get on the drop ship. But first I need to go see Nantz. Speaking of which, I need to grab a banana and head out. Later, dude." Nick hopped off the chair, jogged to the fruit stand, grabbed a banana and headed for the exit, waving to Joseph one last time. Interesting, Nick thought, striding through the halls to where his power told him Paladin's office was, if one of the other kids figured it out this quick, someone else is going to. And soon. He made it to the teacher's hall on the first floor. At the end, he saw a sign that said "HEADMASTER" with smaller text underneath. He couldn't make it out from this distance but he could only assume it said Nantz's full name.

Just then, the oak door to Paladin's office slowly opened. Much to Nick's surprise, Cypher purposefully strode towards him. Well, not exactly to him, per se, but since he came from the only door, the gap between them was bound to close. Starstruck, Nick stopped in his tracks. Cypher was ten feet away before Nick found his words.

"Cypher! Hi, it's a pleasure. Probably the greatest of my life. Uh, oh, wow," Nick began stuttering as Cypher approached him, fading into exclamations when the venerated hero shook his hand.

"Nicholas Quentin Fowler, also known as Hades. Post-cognition and a unique form of emotion manipulation that can manifest shared-cognition. Interesting. Nice to meet you." Behind his mask, Cypher's eyes began to glow as he used his powers on Nick. "How much do you know?"

Nick was taken aback by his personality. It was equal parts forward and formal. He could see this guy being respected, but not having a great many friends. Newfound confidence born from the hero's awkward demeanor (and shorter stature, compared to Nick), he decided to respond in kind. A sense of unease hit him before the words came out of his mouth as he finally processed the subtext behind Cypher's query. He had a sneaking feeling that Cypher was referring to the Weinkauf email. And if that was really what he was asking about, it means it was serious enough to merit an in-person visit by the head of the Regents himself. Nick opted to follow the same policy he had with Joseph, but hint at some knowledge of the events to prompt further conversation. He also wanted to throw Cypher off balance, although even if he was able to, he doubted Cypher would show it.

"That's a loaded question, sir. I suppose I know quite a bit about you. I know that you used to have a nasty drug habit that you've kicked quite successfully, among other things. But I also think I know why you're here, today." At the last sentence, Nick's expression dropped from geniality to dead seriousness, with a matching adjustment in the volume of his voice.

"Drug usage is quite prevalent in America, and was when I was a young adult. You could have simply taken an educated guess and arrived at that conclusion, but given the rumored level of my intelligence and functionality you could deduce that I must have stopped using. If the only thing you know about me is something that could have been a fabricated estimation, you need to reassess how much you know about me Nick. Or should I call you 'John Bender' given our current location? And have you practiced on your piano lately, or was it a bit difficult with the under aged drinking you partook in recently?"

Cypher slid one of his guns out of his holster and gripped the barrel, holding out the handle for Nick to take. "Tell me who was this gun's manufacturer and how many times it was fired."

Nick was mildly indignated at having his powers questioned. It wasn't like this guy was giving him a lot to work with. It's difficult to investigate a faceless suit. But he understood that the man was likely testing him, so deigned to play along. "This isn't a high school, sir. If anything, it's more of a university. So Nick will do you just fine, thanks. I've spent a fair amount of time in both. Have you?" He said, eyeing the mask as he took the gun. Nick studied the weapon for a moment. His powers did their thing, displaying stills of Cypher in some sort of forge, building it himself. 1,245 composite images of him making use of the weapon, sometimes in practice studios, other times in combat, filled his mind.

"You are the gun's manufacturer, although — silly you, you don't hold a trademark on it anywhere in the world," Nick smiled playfully, "and you've fired it 1,245 times. Oh, and by the way, nice work allowing me to make a few leaps and find a couple of your secret practice studios. I suppose you'll be seeing me around sometime once I finish my studies here. And about the piano; I don't think a single beer would affect my performance. Unlike some, I know how to impose limits on myself. Self-discipline, and all that. My powers make it unnecessary to practice, as I can have any song I want on hand. Not that you wouldn't know that already."

Cypher smiled under his mask, which Nick could tell by the slight movement of the muscles of his head. "Impressive." Cypher reached into his pocket and produced a folded sheet of paper. He traded it to Nick for the gun. "What can your powers tell you about this?"

Nick's first thought was, Oh my god, Cypher thinks I'm impressive! But when the masked hero pulled out the folded up piece of paper, Nick's suspicions were immediately confirmed. He unfurled it, but there was no need. He was well aware of what information it contained. The Weinkauf email, he thought. A mild sense of dread overtook him. The fun, joshing mood of moments ago was gone, impossible to recover.

"I was right, you're here because of Paul," Nick said gravely as he examined the printed email.

"Not Paul, specifically. I'm here because people know where the Island is. Think; why would Paul announce that he knows where Weinkauf is? It is unlikely that he spontaneously knew the location of his father, so that means someone likely provided him with that information. If not, there is a breach. Either way, Paul is just a symptom of a larger problem." At this point, the feeling in the back of Nick's head that had been annoying him for a fair few seconds finally explained itself. Nick began to question why they weren't in Paladin's office. Instead, they were sitting out in the open, where anyone could overhear. He trusted in the fact that Cypher was incredibly experienced and well-trained, and that it was most certainly safe and secure, but the fact that Paladin was being deliberately excluded was noteworthy. Nick committed the detail to memory for pondering at a later date.

"Your symptom analogy is more on point than you think. I investigated Weinkauf; the guy's a snooze, he's clean. But his kid is mixed up with the wrong people. He's working with a group of powerful individuals for someone more powerful than any of them. Any of us, maybe. When I investigated Paul, I got a feedback reaction so strong it can mean one of two things: a) there's no written or visual record anywhere of their working group, which is incredibly unlikely, or b) there is an individual who is powerful enough to be able to consciously identify when I'm investigation someone and block me from doing it, and that individual is working against the Academy."

The color drained from Cypher's face. "And you received the feedback, here? On the Island?"

Nick paused to consider Cypher's words for a moment and did a quick investigation of the island. Fuck me, he thought, the soil. He saw it: the soil had been laced with significant amounts of athenium oxide. Anyone on the island would suffer no effects on their powers, but anyone elsewhere would have their powers severely restricted. "Which means the soil additives aren't working. And I'm presuming there's more lines of defense I'm not seeing right now. We have a problem, Cypher." The realization of the potential gravity of the situation struck fear in Nick's heart. His fourth day here and it was all falling apart already.

"A very big problem, but we aren't totally compromised yet." Cypher pulled out a black business card with an inverted and bisected amber Greek Delta. Nick took it gingerly, briefly looking it over before stowing it in his pocket. Realizing how short on time he was, he decided it would be best to delay his conversation with Paladin until his return from the mainland. Disappointed but happy for the opportunity it offered him to consider the options, he made a mental note to visit as soon as he returned.

"If you discover anything else, contact me. I trust you'll figure out how to use it," Cypher started walking off, reaching a hand to his ear.

"Wayhu, Animus, we're leaving."

As Cypher walked away, Nick could do nothing but stare. Just before Cypher stepped out of eyesight, Nick hollered at him.

"You have an idea of what's responsible, don't you. Don't you, Cypher." Wordlessly, Cypher pressed on. Nick smiled for a moment, but it was rapidly replaced by a more lasting look of concern. Nick had no idea what he was getting into.
I'm OP-ing this one - PARAGON INDUSTRIES - A high tech comedy with the kooks, rejects and psychos who work at the once great tech giant that's fallen on bad times. Check out the IC action here!

Also Young Bloods - the long-running superhero RP that I just joined 164 pages in

Louisianan wrote:Talchyon has great comedic writing, that is true.

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Founded: Apr 13, 2013
New York Times Democracy

Postby Tomia » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:03 pm

An amazing collaborative post between Bentus and Zarkenis Ultima from Young Bloods.

Bentus wrote:Marionette seemed undeterred by Kiris’ angry shouts, the hero’s fury only appearing to cause her smile to widen. The villainess watched from the mezzanine as the Hadrian’s head turned around frantically, searching for some weapon to use against her. Leaning on the railing, Marionette idly began wrapping a strand of hair around her finger as she waited patiently for her opponent to join her. Her eyes leisurely followed the Young Blood as she grabbed a hold of a few chairs, her claws instantly setting them ablaze as she hurled them towards her. Seeing the attack coming from a mile away, it was simple for Marionette to casually step to the side as one of the flaming projectiles tore through the railing she had been behind just a moment before. The girl whistled in admiration as she scanned the damage of the impact, Kiris taking the opportunity to leap up to the higher floor with her.

“You don’t get to talk about me and my friends like that, you monster!”

Hearing the Hadrian arrive, Marionette glanced over her shoulder to see the heroine glaring at her with her teeth bared aggressively. The villainess seemed to be surprised for a moment before a friendly smile returned to her features. She offered her opponent a thumbs-up for encouragement. “Good throw, I’m sure you would have had me if it had hit. If you keep trying your hardest like this, then you’ll definitely be able to win.”

Already, Marionette was enjoying the fight. She could hardly believe her good luck, not only getting to see Kiris in action but to also see her fight valiantly for her friends. She smiled slyly, determined to keep pushing the Hadrian’s buttons as she adopted a defensive stance.

“I would hurry up if I were you though.” A look of concern and worry spread across her features, as if she had just thought of something terrible. “I really don’t know how badly hurt Rocket is. Don’t you think it would be awful if something terrible were to happen to him?” Marionette smiled menacingly, eager to push the hero further. “Outside of his mech, what chance do you think he has if a vile villain got her hands on him?”

“I would be more worried about myself if I were ya!” Kirisvala growled at the pink-clad girl, enraged and yet trying to avoid falling into Marionette’s tricks. With her lover badly wounded and unconscious, she wasn’t having a lot of success, but she still made an effort to keep a cool head, lest she do something rash and give the villain a victory on a silver platter.

I can’t do something dumb, not like him. If he hadn’t...

The alien tensed up as she remembered the thoughtless decision that had led to this moment, her fists tightening involuntarily. If I want to beat this witch, if I don’t want to let Mars down, then I have to act smart. I have to make sure she’ll pay for what she did! Thought Kiris as she pondered a way to get back at the villainess, glaring at her all the while. But I won’t accomplish anything if I don’t act.

With that final resolution, Kiris charged towards Marionette, rearing back a fist in order to deliver a white hot punch, literally.

Marionette stood still as Kiris began to charge, the corner of her mouth twisting upwards ever so slightly as the hero gave in to her rage. Holding one of her hands behind her back, Marionette had been quietly extending some of her threads from her fingertips, allowing them to creep down and under the mezzanine flooring. It had been fairly easy to draw Kiris’ attention through their conversation, although Marionette was worried that at any moment the anticipation would have caused her to let something slip. But slowly and surely, the thin threads had crept their way closer and closer to the Hadrian until they were able to simply lie patiently in wait. Now, as Kiris barrelled towards her, all Marionette needed to do was spring her trap.

Unbeknownst to the villainess, however, Kirisvala was well aware of the threads snaking their way towards her under the mezzanine. Right before they would burst forth from underneath and bind her or worse, she grabbed her crystal torronir from behind her back, using a claw to vault herself over the red thread attack before swinging the bludgeon straight towards Marionette’s head with a battle cry.

As Marionette’s threads burst up from under the floorboards, sending wooden shards and splinters flying into the air, the villain’s eyes widened as Kiris expertly dodged the attack. Throwing up an arm at the last second to defend herself, the powerful blow from the club nevertheless sent the blonde girl flying across the floor until she collided into the wall with an oomph. Wincing from the sharp pain from the impact, Marionette was given no time to recover as Kiris roared once again, racing to press her advantage.

Rolling to the side, Marionette managed to move out of the way just as Kiris’ next swing came crashing down. The crystal mace slammed into the marble wall, cracking and shattering the tiles right where Marionette’s head had been moments before. The vibrations of the impact reverberated up Kiris’ arms, and the heroine immediately froze, eyes going wide upon realising that she had been too eager with the strike - but it was too late to make up for the overcommitment.

Grinning at her opponent’s mistake from beside her, Marionette wasted no time stepping closer towards Kiris, moving within the radius of her club before delivering a quick punch to the other girl’s stomach. The crystal armour took most of the impact, but Kiris still gritted her teeth as she felt the strike connect. Unfortunately, that was not all the punishment that Marionette had intended to dish out. Hardly giving Kiris even a chance to breathe following the punch, Marionette followed through with her elbow, slamming into Kiris’ chin and sending her head whipping backwards from the superpowered blow.

The Hadrian did her best to keep her voice to herself and avoid showing any signs of weakness to the cruel aristocrat, but it was evident that what little advantage she had earned was short-lived. In addition, despite her armor, she was feeling the pain from Marionette’s blows, and her fatigue, offset by her desire to protect Mars, was beginning to creep back in, making her begin to feel desperate amidst the struggle.

“RAH!” Kirisvala screamed, forcing herself to stand her ground instead of continuing to step back. With her free claw, she grabbed Marionette’s incoming fist, stopping it mere inches from hitting her lower torso - precisely one of the points where her armor was weaker. Allowing herself a fugacious smile, she gripped the villainess’ fist as tightly as she could, both the pressure and the white fire’s embrace causing her a good deal of pain and, more importantly, forcing her back as the Hadrian advanced. With a grunt, Kirisvala raised her club and swung it at Marionette once more.

Wincing as the hero’s red-hot fist gripped her own hand, Marionette instinctively recoiled from the contact, but refused to allow herself to give in to the pain. Pulling away from the Hadrian, she played into Kiris’ plan and the Young Blood took advantage of the increased distance to once again bring her club down towards Marionette. Grunting as she poured her rapidly depleting strength into the swing, seeking to catch the villainess by surprise, Kiris was taken aback as her weapon suddenly stopped halfway towards its target. Marionette smirked as one of her hands gripped tightly onto the blunt instrument, halting it in its tracks. Her eyes widening as she realised that the villain had been expecting the move, Kiris immediately tried to pull the club away but found it held firmly in place as threads quickly wrapped themselves up and down its length.

“Uh-oh, not so tough without your big stick.” Marionette commented, winking at her opponent.

Glaring at her opponent, Kirisvala drew in a breath of air and then, summoning her strength, she leaped away from the mezzanine and swung her club towards the ground, the sheer force of the motion dragging Marionette along and sending her crashing towards the ground. The villainess was caught off-balance as Kiris pulled her towards the railing. Her eyes widened in surprise and a yelp escaped from her lips as the hero swung both her and the club through the barrier surrounding the mezzanine, straight on a collision course for the ground below. Hitting the ground with her back, the Hadrian driving her body into the floor, Marionette felt a sharp pain echo out from her spine. But she wasn't done yet. Sparing herself just a second to catch her breath after Marionette had crashed, the Hadrian swung her torronir again, attempting to smash the villainess against a nearby column. Much to her dismay, however, she once again felt the club stop suddenly in its tracks.

Spinning herself around as she was swung through the air, Marionette pirouetted her body around to plant her feet on the column while bending her knees to cushion the blow. Without missing a beat, the villain pushed herself back off from the surface to spin over Kiris’ head. Feeling the club - and her arm - being dragged up and over her shoulders unexpectedly, Kiris found herself tugged off-balance as Marionette landed deftly behind her. Still grasping tightly onto the hero’s club with her threads, Marionette twisted her body as she delivered a sharp kick to the square of Kiris’ back. The impact shoved the heroine forward, causing her to stumble as she felt her torronir get torn from her grip. Her eyes widening as she felt her weapon vanish from her hands, Kiris tried to whirl around to face her opponent, but was too slow to complete the move before her own crystal club slammed into the side of her face. The impact twisted Kiris’ neck in an instant, sending a wave of pain shooting out through her skull as her whole body was lifted into the air.

Flying a short distance from the sheer force of the blow and landing in a different area of the ballroom, Kirisvala sank her claws into the floor to stop herself from sliding away even further and looked up. The splitting pain in her head didn’t let her concentrate, and the world looked like it was all out of focus. As badly disoriented as she was, she didn’t notice Marionette’s threads slithering across the ground towards her until it was almost too late, and forced herself to roll out of the way just as they rose up and attempted to envelop her, noting with despair that her body was taking longer and longer to respond to her wishes.

I can’t… Not now…!

“Tired already? But we’re just getting started!” Marionette’s voice came from just above her, and with horror, the alien girl looked up to see her preparing a powerful descending swing with the bludgeon. Involuntarily, Kiris let out a small shriek as her claw shot up to stop the weapon in its tracks. It wouldn’t have been very difficult normally, what with the Hadrian’s tremendous strength,but her fatigue was really starting to show, her claw trembling as she tried to keep the crystal mace away. Looking up and seeing Marionette’s grin, she glared back, trying to put on a brave face, but the facade was cracking.

“That was a cute cry, Kiris. But you can’t give up yet!” The villainess teased, her sadistic streak no doubt surfacing after hearing the heroine’s shriek.


Marionette’s smile seemed to widen, a twinkle shining in her eyes as Kiris struggled to hold back the club. Sensing the advantage, the villain steadily began to push more and more of her weight onto the mace, gradually pressing it down closer and closer to the tiring hero. Grimacing as she felt herself being pushed towards the ground, Kiris’ dropped onto one of her knees. Now looking down on the Hadrian, Marionette was incapable of disguising her excitement. Her eyes bore into Kiris’ with a look of giddy anticipation, relishing the feeling in her chest as the end of the fight drew near. Gritting her teeth together, and refusing to give in when she still had breath in her lungs, Kiris reached out with her other claw to grasp onto the mace. No! I won’t let her win! Growling with effort, she gradually began to move the weapon back towards the villain.

Looking surprised for a moment at the renewed surge of determination, Marionette’s wide, excitable grin swiftly returned. This is the Kiris that she had been hoping to meet! This was the hero that she had read and heard so much about on the news and online. And seeing Kiris give it her all would make what came next all the more satisfying.

Taking a swift step to close the distance between herself and the still-crouching hero, Marionette brought up one of her knees to deliver a crushing blow to Kiris’ chest. With both of her arms held up by the mace, and all of her concentration focused on keeping it away from her, Kiris was entirely unprepared for the underhanded strike. Her eyes bulging as the air was forced from her lungs despite the crystal armor that adorned her body, Kiris doubled over instinctively from the pain as she released her grip on the torronir. Reaching out with one of her hands, a flood of threads surged from Marionette’s fingertips and slammed into the vulnerable heroine, pushing her back forcefully until she slammed into one of the ballroom’s columns. Squeezing her eyes shut, she felt the torrent of lethal strands pummel her torso as they continued to press into her armor. Wincing, Kiris looked up in horror to see Marionette walking calmly towards her. She could feel an increasing tightness clamping down on her chest as the threads constricted around her. Glancing down, Kiris saw the red strands wrapping around her torso and her limbs, holding her fast to the pillar but avoiding her claws, lest they be caught aflame. Trying to move her arms, her legs, anything that she could in an attempt to break free of Marionette’s snares, Kiris felt herself quickly depleting the last of her strength.

“You know, you really surprised me there. For a moment I thought you were going to turn the tables on me again!” A giggle escaped from Marionette as she inched closer and closer with short, graceful steps. “But I guess you’re done for, now. It’s such a shame, but maybe you simply weren’t made to be better than this. Oh, but don’t feel bad, you gave me a pretty good fight. Honest!” The villainess offered an encouraging smile, as if to console her opponent after she had lost the fight. All the while, Kiris glared at her, but in her current state, bound and helpless, she was in no position to silence the monster in front of her.

“Still, I’ll have to think of what to do for fun after this… Ah, of course! Silly me, your boyfriend is still back in that crystal cage you made for him!” The blonde girl softly smacked her forehead with her hand before letting out another amused giggle. Kirisvala’s eyes went wide as she remembered that Mars was still unconscious, resting inside the crystal barrier she had erected with a spell. A knife twisted itself in the heroine’s chest as a growing sense of horror rose up in her throat. It had been meant to keep him safe while she won the battle and got him to a safer place, but she had clearly failed in that regard, and if she fell, Marionette would have all the time in the world to get through the cocoon and…

Tears began streaming down the alien’s face as she realized what she had inadvertently done.

I… I handed Mars to her in a silver platter… the person I love… why…?

Seeing the sorry mess that had become of the heroine’s face, even despite her helmet’s obstruction, Marionette felt all the more giddy and eager to continue pushing Kiris’ buttons. Smiling brightly, she put a finger to her chin. “What should I do… hm… well, why am I wasting my time asking myself when you’re right here with me?” The villainess spoke before leaning even closer, until her face was only a couple of inches away from the heroine’s helmet, wide open blue eyes staring into the red. “I wonder, should I hurt him real bad, or should I have a little fun with him along the way? What would piss you off more?”

The insinuation was more than the heroine could take, and she redoubled her struggling, forcing her arms, her legs, and even her bound tail against her bindings in a knowingly futile effort, her strength insufficient to break free. She was fully aware that she couldn’t save Mars like this, but she struggled all the same, the pain preferable to simply bearing with Marionette’s threats and teases while doing nothing. Soon, loud screams and roars of rage and helplessness began to echo throughout the entire ballroom, as if she wanted to destroy the strings with noise, as if further depleting her own strength this way would help her. The way she acted now resembled more an animal than a person, though she wouldn’t have cared if the fact had been brought to her attention.

All the while, Marionette watched, delighted. “Wow, Kiris! I didn’t expect such a good reaction from you! This is way more than I bargained for!” She spoke with glee, practically skipping around the column with dainty steps to get a better look at the struggling heroine she had captured, before suddenly coming to a stop in front of her once more. Looking at Kiris, Marionette frowned slightly. “Wait, you’re not even listening to me at all, are you?”

After a while, the frustrated screams devolved into short exclamations, and then simple whimpers.

I’m not a heroine, I’m useless… I can’t do anything… anything at all… I should’ve never joined, maybe if I hadn’t, then Mars… he wouldn’t… The Hadrian thought, her fatigue barely even letting her form coherent sentences in her own mind. I’ve got to do something… anything… but what? I can’t...

In a sudden moment of lucidity, the answer came to her. In accordance with her mental state, it was less of a plan and more of a single, disconnected idea. One that could end horribly wrong for her if it didn’t work. But come to this point, she was willing to wager everything over such a nebulous hope. And so she did. Struggling to simply take a breath, she sang out a single note, which caused all of her crystal constructs to fade into curtains of shimmering red dust. The large wall she had raised around the hostages disappeared, as did the smaller one around her unconscious lover. The torronir, too, vanished, and even the armor that covered her body, piece by piece, plate by plate. Helmet, cuirass and boots all turned to dust.

Surprised by this action, Marionette looked around the ballroom and then back at Kiris. “What’s this? Did you give u-” The villainess began, only to be swiftly cut off as an alien claw clamped down around her neck. In destroying her own armor, she had given herself just enough space to reach out with one of her arms, and though the strings had dug very painfully into her skin at various places, sometimes drawing blood, her bargain had ultimately worked out. Marionette was utterly shocked by the sudden attack, control over her strings wavering enough that Kirisvala was able to free herself and hoist the psychopathic heiress, flames licking at her skin and dress.

With a scream and a massive surge of strength borne out of rage and despair rather than honor or justice, Kiris turned around and slammed the villainess into the ground hard enough to shatter the floor beneath her.

Then she did it again.

And again.

On and on the alien went, each slam sending violent quakes through the floor of the entire ballroom, a growing hole appearing beneath the area where Marionette’s body crashed time and time again until suddenly, the whole ground gave way, collapsing around the two girls as they fell to the floor beneath the ballroom together. Feeling no more strength to go on, Kirisvala closed her eyes and let Marionette go, surrendering herself to gravity and the merciless embrace of the cold floor. Pain flared through her entire body as she landed, but she lacked the strength to even open her eyes.

Instead, she simply lay there. She could feel various deep cuts on her shoulders and a gash on her forehead from where Marionette’s strings had sunk into her, as well as a nasty mark on her neck that could have easily become a fatal injury had she acted just an instant too late. Her back felt battered, and her chest even more so. Her arms and legs burned like hell, and her hands and feet felt heavier than mountains. Breathing brought a familiar painful sensation, the likes of which she had experienced before, though this made it no less pleasant. All of these things and more became increasingly apparent to her as she lay helplessly on the ground.

After several moments of wallowing in pain, Kirisvala tried to open her eyes once more, and found that she succeeded. The world was less of a definite reality and more of a haze this time. Her strained eyes could not make out anything concrete, nor tell individual objects apart from each other. The only thing there was a strange hole in the sky, and a light beyond that she felt connected to, though she couldn’t reach for it nor even call out to it. As she continued staring, things began to take form, and she realized that the bright light was not the sun of her ever distant home, but the burning railing of the ballroom’s mezzanine, which threatened to consume the entire place if left unchecked.

Right… I still have to…

Attempting to take a deep breath, the Hadrian suddenly coughed out, the action causing a searing pain to shoot through her entire chest, the powerful sensation nearly making her tear up yet again. Pausing for a moment and taking shallower breaths, the girl tried again, this time succeeding, and sang out another note, different from the previous one. In an instant, both the flame around her fists and the flame beyond the hole above her disappeared. Her claws still smoldered, the heat they gave off warping the air around, but she could not feel them and the fire had all been extinguished. As it died, so too did the last coherent thoughts in her mind.

I’m so exhausted…

Did I… win?


Then darkness.

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Posts: 9717
Founded: Jun 28, 2012

Postby Zanera » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:55 am

A post navigating a battle involving thousands of men by three players, Ithalian Empire, Tayner, and Everhall in an RP: The Legends of Eroris: Brotherhood. With planning and writing that took four days, it is a harrowing battle displaying the necessities of quick thinking and reaction in combat, yet ending on a note that at times, even when caught up in the slaughter of unidentifiable men in battle, one must pause to think about who one is slaying.

Eroris Historical Society wrote:
The Battle of Mason's Crest
29th of Second Seed, 4E 901

Kingdom of Atlas, Duchy of High Rock VS. County of Nymeria

Tatical Atlean victory; Nymerian Force Destroyed or Captured

Forces Deployed:
Kingdom of Atlas: 8,800 Soldiers
-Vasssals: 2,100
Duchy of High Rock: 2,650 Soldiers
Total: 13,550
County of Nymeria: 2,015 Soldiers
Total: 2,015

Kingdom of Atlas: 428
-Vassals: 1,279
Duchy of High Rock: 34
Total: 1,707
County of Nymeria: 1,691
Total 1,691


Nymeria - Count Wymar Wakefield

Immediately, everything seemed wrong to Wymar. Before their column what should have laid an open road through the Crest towards the Fortress beyond it stood a firm line of Atlean infantrymen formed up in a line blocking the pass. "Slow down!" the Count ordered bringing is battalion to a much slower pace as they approached the Crest, "Something's not right here." Reinforcements were nothing to be unexpected; after all, Mettius Clement had retreated towards the Crest which was an important castle on the way to High Rock. Something stood out to Wymar, however, something that unnerved him. Their position, the way they were arrayed made no sense. If he were the Carcaster forces he would place his army at the end of the Crest, block his men between two elevated positions while a reserve force closed the trap from the rear. From there it would only be a matter of time until the archer and arcane bombardment overwhelmed the attackers. That was why Wymar had chosen to take a unit composed of cavalry in order to nullify any such trap. The thing wrong with the Carcaster formation was that it was so uninventive, so... Lacking in some of the considerations that a commander would do; that Mettius would do. Why? Wymar asked himself, Why does this make no sense. He looked to his side, and his eyes widened as he caught a glimpse of an Atlean soldier and he knocked his arrow. I've been tricked.

"Men move now!" Wymar gave the order breaking his horse into a gallop. An arrow whizzed past his head and embedded itself into the flesh of the man behind him. Damn! Wymar cursed, How could I have been so ignorant!? The Red Eagle banners of Atlas emerged from the forest around them, men in gleaming armor drew their swords with shattering battle cries moving forward towards him. They were unable to match the speed of Wymar's Knights, however. The Count thanked the gods that he had, at least, chosen correctly what forces to send after Mettius. He turned back towards the Crest, his hair flapping in the wind, and focused on one point, the armored soldiers before him, with narrow eyes of determination. There was only one option, one choice, that could potentially win him the battle, and even then, it was a risky move. He drew his sword and smiled wryly, "Give your mounts all you can give! We're heading straight for the trap!" With that order, the knights and mages of Wymar's force prepared their weapons and spells before they charged straight for the enemy line at the gates of Mason's Crest. Fire and arrows rained on the position.

High Rock - Countess Adythe

Countess Adythe had been tasked with holding the center of the Atlean line. When she saw the Nymerian army she immediately knew that the tactical situation did not benefit her in the slightest. She and the three hundred infantry with her where completely exposes What in Dread were they thinking? Her men fidgeting nervously, she heard a few vomit. 2,000 mounted men were coming her way. That Duke of High Rock is a bloody fool. But she knew not to say such thing in front of the men she commanded. She could show any doubt.

“Right than men. That's the enemy. They are coming here, they are mounted. Who gives a shit. We were ordered to hold this position, and I will hold it even if Dread itself tried to move me,” her little speech had it intended effect. Men drew weapons, straightened their backs and gritted their teeth. If a woman was going to hold this line, they would too.

Somewhere in the woodlands atop the Crest where the rest of the army. Here sat the pikemen and archers who would make the noose tight and rain death from the sky. One of them had already knocked his arrow. He had taken aim at the lead horseman, sure that it was someone important. Then his heart sank into his stomach. That man in the front of the enemy had seen the glint of the sun upon the steel arrowhead. The trap had been found and the Nymmerians began there charge toward Countess Adythe.
Gods damned it. Gods thrice damned it but on her face was a smile. “Right, here they come lads. Make em eat-” She was cut short as a wave of arrows and magic crashed into her lines, mean screaming and dying and soon the Nymerians whereupon them.

High Rock - Heremond Carcaster

Shit, Heremond watched as the battle began, with him was the Order of the Rock - three-hundred knights in all. “Baerwald, sound the charge. Men of the Rock, stick to my ass and charge into glory.” A war horn sounded, banners where lifted all across the Atlean line. Down the slope of the leftmost embarkment of the crest charged 300 knights.

Heremond felt the wind blow past him. He was riding down a slope that most wouldn't even dare. But he had ridden this slope many times while hunting with his father-in-law. He knew where he could and could not go. He rode on. His lance lowered as he drew near the still charging Nymerian calvary. On the opposite flank, King Eydmn was charging as the wall. The thunder of hooves was deafening, the scream of men shrill, and the smell of blood and burnt flesh hung over the air. Closer, closer, closer yet the Knights of High Rock charged till Heremond felt the tip of his lance bite into the body of a Nymerian rider caught unaware. Behind the charge of the cavalry came the infantry, men armed with pikes and halberds to try and close the gap around the enemy.

His lance had broken, the tip stuck in the neck of some poor boy. Heremond didn't care. These men had burnt his lands, killed and raped his people. He would let them have it. He hacked into them with his sword, 'till his arm was covered in there blood. But he didn’t stay in the fray for long, the infantry would carry on from here.

Heremond thought that the Nymerains where encircled. The battle already nearly over. He was wrong.


The Altean line came closer, closer, Wymar yelling a ferocious war-cry with his men as his cavalry approached the enemy. He leaned over to the right, sword in hand, and swung with all his might at the enemy as his horse ran into the line, cleaving into a young boy's neck before being raised again above his shoulder. Wymar would have been in a difficult position with his horse stalled before the line, but soon the rest of his Knights crashing into the thin Atlean formation, putting more and more pressure onto the line before the first Nymerian knight rushed through the now open Crest. "NOW MEN!" His cavalry funneled through the opening slaughtering more of the enemy as they trampled the sigil of Atlas beneath their horses. They weren't out of the danger yet, however. A number of archers had been arrayed on the hill on either side of the Crest forcing the Knights to raise their shields in preparedness. They numbered less than the countless forces left behind them but they were a danger nonetheless; an arrow grazed Wymar's arm sending sharp pain signals to his brain, the firing archer being the first to bear the brunt of a spell released by Toralt. Wymar looked back towards the end of his forces were the last cavalrymen had made his way through the shattered Atlean line. There was a noticeable decrease in the number of men that he had, but knowing the odds he was lucky he had made it out with so many to begin with.

"Close the pass!" Wymar shouted. The mages riding at the end of his column threw fireballs at the advancing Carcasters and Atleans behind them, sending a wall of flames in the air that lingered as the Nymerians rode towards the castle at Mason's Crest. There, Wymar found more forces gathering. They hastened to form their line out of the surprise that had been Wymar's breakthrough; and so, it was easy for the two-thousand horsemen to overwhelm the hastily gathered force. The smell of blood and burning flesh already permeated the air just seconds into the battle, and his sword was already stained with the blood of several young men. War was supposed to be glorious; war was supposed to be exhilarating. All Wymar could feel, however, was the need to survive no matter what. And he had a plan to do just that.

High Rock - Rodger Pithythe

The old man stood upon the battlements of his castle. Looking on at the battle the was unfolding before him. What was Heremond doing? His line had broken, the enemy was pouring out through the pass. Damn, damn it all. If only he wasn't so old, he would have gone forth and helped hold that line. But it was too late. He could, however, do one thing, and that was watch. He saw some of the survivors try and reform their line, and he watched them all die. He watched the Nymerians raise a wall of flame and cut off the rest of the army from pursuit.

But most importantly, he saw the enemy split in two. He had to tell Heremond. Had to warn him.

“Aried, get my armor and horse,” he called to his steward.


How could this have happened? For a while, it seemed as if everything was going so well, his plan was going as it should. And now this. The enemy had broken through his line and kept him from pursuing until it was too late. Now it was he who was trapped in the bowl created by the Crest. “Damn it.” Heremond spat as Alywin rode up to him, “Alywin, tell Mettius and King Edymn that I am riding over the crest with a few other knights. We need to see where the bastards have gone.”

“Yes, m’lord.”

Heremond rode up the Crest along game trails. Deer liked to sleep in the day up here, the shade and thick foliage made for perfect concealment. Heremond only went up with thirty other knights, the flame on the road was still raging. Heremond stopped, a thought had hit him. The enemy could very well also be using the thick foliage to conceal themselves. Damn, damn them all. He turned around to get off the Crest.

High Rock - Mettius Clement

"The bastard's crazy enough to do it!" Mettius exclaimed as the Nymerians saw through the trap. They charged full gallop towards their line, and Mettius cursed again. Their only option would be to spring the trap and engage them before they could break through. He was on the opposite side of the crest of Heremond, and he looked across the way to see that Heremond had already reached the same conclusion, with banners raised and horns sounding. "Forward men, hoist colors and ready your sword arms!" Mettius bellowed before ordering his own group to charge.

It was bloody. They cut down as many enemy riders as they could, but they were too late, they already trampling through the center. Mettius had cut down nearly a dozen riders when the Atlas line reformed in the Crest. It was then when their mages set the pass alight, scorching everyone alive. Mettius swore again, and raised his sword to get the attention of a nearby officer. "Rally what mages you can, and start quelling that fire." He ordered, before turning to another officer. "You, reform the men and prepare for immediate re-engagement. I will ride southeast and meet with the reserves and bring them forward. As soon as that inferno is put out, ride south and ride down the Nymerians!" He barked before turning towards the reserve. "And send a runner to Duke Heremond letting him know of my plans!"

He took a dozen knights with him, and they traveled through old logging trails that had been long forgotten, nearly overgrown with brush. They rode hard and fast, the lives of every man still guarding the Crest depended on their swiftness. They shortly arrived at the camp where the reserves were, and Mettius met their commander, a Reachman noble. "Sire," Mettius said, giving a slight bow, forgoing most formalities out of haste. "The Nymerians have broken through, we need to march along the hills to engage them. The trap has failed, but we can still entrap them on this side if we move with haste." Mettius said.

"Very well." The commander said, "You and your knights will lead the way."

"Aye, I wouldn't have it any other way," Mettius said, and then turned north. "We'll march along the hills for protection and concealment from their forces, but once we draw near enough we'll march into the open behind them." He hollered to the commander as they rode at a moderate pace so the infantry could keep up. "I want you men with polearms to be at the front of our formation, along with my knights. Have archers cover us from the rear." He continued.

"The enemy will either turn to engage us or continue their assault on our forces on the crest. If the latter happens we will have to charge up the hill and attack them from the rear."

Nymeria - Toralt of Nymeria

One of the first rules of mounted was that you’d be next to useless going up and downhill. Going through forested hills; even less so. Toralt and his band of Nymerians, however, had no time for rules; as they galloped the best they count in the dense woodland of the hills, he knew that their plan relied on them disregarding the rules. Even then, Toralt knew that the chance for survival was slim, they all knew this, so he had dispatched twenty of his fastest riders to escape from the encirclement in order to warn the main army of the coming force to the south. He had done his part, and now he could only pray to the gods that everything went well. You can do it, Wymar; I’m counting on you.

Shouts from further within the forest awoke Toralt from his thoughts, ”There they are!” a man shouted pointing from one from one of the higher elevated hills. Atlean archers quickly acted on his sighting knocking and firing arrows into the Nymerian cavalry bringing several large beasts to the group. Toralt dodged as an arrow whizzed past his face landing in a small stream to his side before turning and releasing a spell of fire onto the firing soldier. Even then the situation remained dire as the Atleans still retained the high ground. They began to fire arrow upon arrow into the knights whose only protection was their shields and armor bringing down many of them in the process. What few mages Toralt has under his command did their best to counterattack as Atlean arcanists three spells down on the horsemen, but even then they could not match their sheer numbers as spells of lightning, flames, and entropy flashes across the hillside.

Toralt turned to the group of riders to his right to see how they were pulling through in the fight. These knights, not in the direct line of fire, were able to deal with whatever poor soldiers remained along the left flank of his unit giving Toralt pause for hope. However, this feeling was soon dashed by thunderous stomping and frenzied roars. Atlean pikemen emerged from the woods on his right flank driving their pikes into the charging knights taking horse and rider down in one fell swoop. Toralt reigned his horse to the side along with the other men of his company to avoid a similar fate, but the similar roars of others made the mage realize just what was occurring.


They marched into the forested hills, banners lowered and horns muted. They couldn't afford to let the enemy discover their presence any sooner than possible. No man spoke, they knew they were drawing near to a fight. It was only when the Nymerian cavalry was visible when the banners unfurled and the horns sounded. They had caught their opponent in their flank, and Mettius hollered for a charge. The initial assault greatly reduced the enemy's numbers, however, once they had time to reorganize their forces it put the Atlas battalion at a slight disadvantage, fighting mounted knights in an uphill engagement.

The Nymerians lead a cavalry charge into the Atlean lines, the pikemen did well to retaliate, but there were more horses than pikes and spears. Cavalry raised dread throughout Atlean ranks for some time before being forced to retreat and ready for another attack. Mettius would ride to the front of the formation and spur his horse as he held his sword up high over his head. Any man who could still stand had mustered to hear his words as a bannerman raced to his side.

"Brothers! The end is near! Our enemy is weak, and we are strong! Defend yourselves for one more battle, fight well, and I promise that victory will be held within our hands! For The Rock! For Atlas!" He yelled, before barking orders to form a spear phalanx, men hurrying to recover spears from the fallen to take up positions of their own within the ranks.

Mettius, his twelve knights, and a small entourage of Atlean officers and knights stood in front of the formation, mounted. The ground shook as nearly 300 horses charged down the hill to attack them, a suicidal attack only meant to delay them. Mettius ordered a charge, and the two forces met in a small clearing at the foot of a hill. Once again the spearmen took as many mounted soldiers as they could, but once again they had to fend off the enemy cavalry. The mounted Atlean forces tried their best to defend their infantry counterparts, as did Mettius. He raised his longsword high in his hand as he struck down many Nymerian knights.

However, one knight charged fourth, lance in hand as he impaled Mettius' mount, Ivy. He cursed as he fell, and the enemy knight came around again, this time with their own sword raised. Mettius cursed loudly as he prepared to defend himself, and once the enemy knight had committed to his swing, Mettius swung his own sword with the might of fifty years of imperial experience and fifty more of knighthood, and his defense proved fruitful.

His blow cut the knight's sword clean in half, and the now unarmed rider was quickly dispatched by nearby infantrymen. By now the Nymerian knights has mostly lost their mounts, and they were now fighting as infantry amongst the Atleans, over the corpses of men and horses alike. The green grass of the clearing had been reduced to pulp and mud beneath the battle. Mettius looked up the hill to see a group of enemy knights, about twelve strong, take up a defensive stance as the Atlean infantry closed in to strike them down.
The enemy held quite strong, and one, in particular, stood in the center, shouting orders as they struck down wave after wave of Atlean infantrymen. Mettius bowed his head as he made his charge and spoke, "Lord may you hear my prayer, may the glory of your light banish the darkness of my foe!" He raised his sword high as his armor and blade were enveloped in flame. He struck down one knight after another until they were too few to hold against the infantry.

As the blessing of Aduranos wore off, the remaining Nymerian knights threw down their weapons to surrender. Mettius ordered that they be given quarter and that he required a runner. "There are too few riders here, the Nymerian force that broke through was much larger. Any man still mounted has become a scout, and any man with light armor has become a runner. I need someone to make contact with our allied archers still up the hill, and another to give word to Lord Heremond. All scouts ride west to find where the remaining enemy forces stand. Move!" He bellowed.

"Sir, this is their leader!" A foot soldier reported to Mettius, bringing before him a knight with his hand bound behind his back.

"Very well, bring him closer," Mettius said, and the prisoner was brought to Mettius. "Lad, I don't expect you to betray your lord, but a lot of our countrymen will die if you don't tell me where the rest of your forces are." He spoke.

"You're already too late, elf." The man snarled.


Sweat ran down Wymar's brow in the depths of the forest. Patches of sunlight were able to bleed through the canopy above his men's heads but other than that, they were completely shaded in darkness. This was is; their final chance for, if not victory, glorious defeat. He had already sent twenty riders north and west as he and Toralt had agreed to. By going west, they would circumvent the Atlean and Carcaster armies and then by going north they would be able to alert Cedric what had occurred to the south. Maybe he'll stop calling me useless now,[i] Wymar thought jokingly about his cousin. Putting his foot through the stirrup and remounting his horse Wymar looked down on the captive Carcaster men below him. Archers, the one that had fired down on him and his men as they passed through the Crest. He already knew what to do with them,

"Let no man besmirch your honor for being captured in battle. You fought well and true and I shall remember you all with my dying breath today. That goes for all of you, my brave men, who are willing to sacrifice lovers, wives, children, and homes just to stand by my side today. Know now that surrender is not the coward's choice because dying is easy, living is harder..." Wymar sighed before he firmly secured his helm over his head, "Now let us seek glory."

Wymar broke into a gallop with his remaining men, the remnants of two companies of mages and knights that had accompanied him down south to Mason's Crest. The hills started to become less steep, more round, as his cavalrymen made their way through the forest, and it became clear with every passing moment how close they were to combat. Wymar tenderly held his wedding ring in hand as the sun-filled plains approached before kissing it softly even as he continued to ride with his column. [i]I'm sorry,
he thought, I should be with you... Ryenar, give me strength.

His heart filled with determination as he placed the ring firmly back on his finger and his company rode out of the forested crest to open planes... and the exposed rear of the Atlean army. "CHARGE!" He gave the order. His eight hundred horsemen thundered down the Reacheon planes each man with a hand full of steel and a heart full of courage. The Atlean forces before them at first seemed to think the Nymerians were among there own cavalry, however, the furling banner of the golden sickle of Nymeria quickly informed them of their mistake. Desperate shouts were given, telling the other soldiers of the incoming assault but no, it was too late; they were already upon them. The Nymerians crashed into the Atlean line, but quickly began to charge off to the side, slaughtering as many men as they could before peeling off back towards the hills. Caught in this mad attack was Wymar, who leaned into his sword strikes even as knight after knight of his cavalry fell to the superior Atlean infantry and numbers. Eventually, sword encrusted with blood, Wymar ordered his men to fall back. They had taken heavy losses in the first charge, but for every fallen Nymerian Wymar was sure they had taken three Atleans. He ordered a charge again, his arching arm stabbed by an Atlean pikeman as he struggled with increasing difficulty to strike down the soldiers of Atlas. Once again Wymar gave the order to retreat and once again the Nymerians pulled back. The Kingdom of Atlas had formed up into a strong line of pike phalanx ready to take the brunt of another Nymerian charge. Few of his men remained on their horses, the few that did having maintained wounds of various severity. Blood covered Wymar's face but he was not ready to give up.

One last charge, one last moment of glory. The galloping steeds of Nymeria created a thunderous rumbling in the ground as if Ryenar himself drove the beasts towards the Atlean phalanx. They got closer, closer, up until they were just feet before the phalanx' long spears. This is it... Wymar felt it, This is where I fall. But a crash came from the left as the Carcaster cavalry slammed into the Nymerian flank. Wymar fell from his horse and watched in despair as his company crumbled.


Heremond heard the sounds of battle dying down on the left flank, Mettius and King Edymn surely dispatching of the rest of the Nymerians. He had taken the knights of the Order to a position within riding distance of some of the reserves. A skirmish was said to have taken place a little distance from here. Most likely a small splinter force of Nymerians trying to flee the battle. Their current position would give him room to charge the enemy if they tried to go onto the main road. Before him lay the remains of the earlier battle. Dead men and dead horses. The toll was going to be high today. The Nymerians had fought like demons. Then, further down the valley, something caught his eye. Movement, a mass of cavalry coming down the Crest.

“Bearwald, is that ours? I thought the rest of the cavalry was on the other side of the Crest?”

“So did I,” all stopped and watched in horror as the force unfurled there colors, the colors of Nymeria. Wymar had outmaneuvered them, and now the unsuspecting Atlean infantry. “Oh, shit,” was all Bearwald could whisper.

“Raise the colors of the Rock and sound the horn. We charge Men of High Rock.” Heremond cried as he spurred his chestnut stallion forward.

There was still quite a distance between Heremond and the rest of the army, enough distance that the Nymerians were able to retreat and charge again and again. Each time the line of Atlean infantry seemed like it would break, each time it seemed as if Wymar would somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Heremond could only pray that he would make it in time Damn you Wymar, damn you Julek, damn myself. The Nymerians were coming in for their third charge. Some of the Atleans where looking as if they were going to run for it. Three Hundred knights where no thundering down to the battle, formed in a wedge with Heremond at the lead, lances turned down. Closer and closer the two forces came. Heremond aimed for the leading knight as the two cavalry units collided.

Heremond aimed his lance at his enemies neck where the armor was weakest. He prayed that his aim was true and his enemy would meet a swift end. But the will of gods is a fickle thing, something bumped him, his lance went wild and caught the enemies horse, toppling rider and beast onto the ground. Heremond cursed. And drew his sword. A Nymerian knight still on a horse came at Heremond, a sword in hand. They meet in a clash of blows and parries before Heremond laid a blow to the young knight, not much older than his own brother. Heremond was covered in his blood.

He looked around for other targets, other men to kill, to meet his blade and his fury. But the Nymerians before him were either dead or broken. The counter charge had worked. Those Nymerians that survived were either trying to desperately get away from the battle or had surrendered. Heremond dismounted and removed his helm, his hair slick with sweat and blood. A few months ago he would have thought that this would have been impossible, Reachmen spilling their blood like this. But now here he was, the silversteel blade in his hands covered in the blood of men that at another time he would have called kin. As he looked about the carnage that surrounded him movement caught his eye.

He walked over to where it was out of curiosity. It was a man if you looked hard enough. Mud and blood covered him as he tried to crawl out from a dead horse. A lance shaft was sticking out of the horse just in front of the poor animals left back leg. Heremond knew what shaft had killed the horse, a carved initial on the metal where the lance head as attached to the wooden shaft told him. It was his own lance. Heremond walked over to the struggling man, sword in hand.

He walked over, he knew not if the man knew he was coming, he didn't care either. He placed a foot on the man back, the bloodied tip of his sword touching the back of the stranger's neck. “Give me a good reason why I shouldn’t kill you now Nymerian.”


"Ugh..." Wymar grunted as he struggled to remove himself out from under his wounded horse. Mud and blood caked Wymar all over like a thin new layer of skin, covering all but what was under his dented helm, which, even then, was dirtied with grime. "Dammit-" Wymar grimaced; the horse over him had pinned Wymar strangely, causing him pain that combined with the rest of his aches to paralyze him. Don't give up now! he urged himself to keep going, Remember why you fight, remember why you live! He pushed against the beast over him even as his nerves commanded him to stop sending waves of pain pulsing towards his brain. He struggled in vain for a few agonizing minutes, barely even budging the horse lying on top of him. Finally, however, he managed to get one good shove into the beast's side allowing himself to slip from under his horse. Wymar heaved on the ground for a moment as a fresh wave of pain from his leg overwhelmed him; something obviously was wrong it, but just looking it over as Wymar did was not going to find it. The battle raged around him with a violent fervor with clashes of the remaining Nymerian cavalry and the forces of the Rock being waged around him. Wymar prepared to stand to rejoin the battle, but a foot at his back and a sword at his neck stopped him.

"Give me a good reason why I shouldn't kill you now, Nymerian."

It sounded like the voice of death, but one he strangely recognized. That wasn't important, however, to Wymar; what was important was that this man, in particular, was at his back with a sword at the back of his neck.Dammit, Wymar cursed to himself, My armor! The armor Wymar wore was clearly that of a noble, refined and dignified, it would only make sense for him to be like a magnet on the battlefield. He struggled to think of a way out of his predicament, scanning his surroundings for something anything that would help him. A long sword gleamed to his left. He smiled wryly.

"I have one," Wymar suddenly dropped to the ground and rolled to his left side, grabbing the long sword as he went and standing to face his opponent's familiar face, "I might just kill you first... Heremond."


"What's your name, laddie?" Mettius said, looking down upon the knight.

"Ser Toralt, loyal servant of House Wakefield" He answered.

"Very well Ser Toralt, when I'm writing the history books I'll be sure to note your stubborn loyalty," Mettius said. The Reachman snarled and spit at Mettius' feet. However, he let himself waver for a quick second, gazing off into the forest, westward. Mettius matched his gaze, and the pieces fell in line. "I need every available mount and every available rider." He said, fellow Knights of the Rock gathering around with other nobles and officers.
They managed to round up little more half a dozen horses, which was enough for the remaining Knights of the Rock who could still fight. As Mettius rode he thought about the tactical situation. Once the Nymerians passed through the crest they split and assaulted either side of the defenses on the gap, knowing that they would be unable to seize the city. On the west, they would be matched with Carcaster cavalry supporting the Atlas infantry in reserve, who all were covered by the archers and mages in the hills. If Heremond were there, Mettius had no doubt he could lead their forces successfully against the Nymerians.

They found the edge of the battlefield, battered and littered with corpses. The smoke from the fire in the crest had come in hard over the battlefield due to a westwardly wind. The fog of war only grew as they found the location of the fight, which mostly seemed to be won. However, a few holdouts remained, and Mettius ordered his knights to join the skirmish while he sought out Lord Heremond.


Heremond was not expecting Wymar to move with that speed. But he couldn’t let that throw him off. Nothing could, Heremond could not afford to slip up now, his very life was dependent on him doing so. He moved his sword to a guard position, ready to defend himself from a blow or to deliver one as needed. Heremond began to slowly circle, looking for an opening in Wymars defenses.

“That so?” said Heremond. In the old stories, someone would have given a long monologue right here. But there were not the tales of the old heroes that were told to Heremond by his father. This was reality, things were moving to fast for a man to properly think. He just had to do.

Heremond kept circling Wymar, who in turn began circling Heremond. Both looking for a chance to strike, both measuring the other in their minds. Wymar was a few years older than Heremond, but the way he held his sword told him the Wymar hadn't been given as rigorous a martial education as he had been given. The scars of the old Ash Elf where a testament to that. Moreover, Heremond had the better weapon. It wasn't unheard of for silversteel to cut right through mundane steal. That's when Heremond saw his opening.

He sprung forward at Wymar, thrusting his blade as he did so. Wymar barely managed to deflect the strike with his own blade, sparks flying told Heremond that the silversteel of his own blade had dulled out the blade grasped in Wymar’s hand. Wymar tried to counter Heremonds attack with one of his own, swinging at Heremond head. Heremond ducked and immediately went to attack Wymar’s exposed lift side. Here to Heremond didn't land a blow, Wymar jumped out of the way just in time. The grimace of pain on Wymar’s face told Heremond something else. His enemy was wounded, something he could exploit.

Damned leg, Wymar thought as he winced from the pain. His margin for victory was small, so he had to do everything he could to hide his injury. Heremond has seen it though, he was sure of it, so Wymar tried to stall for time as he circled Heremond with his blade,
“I was at your wedding a few years back, you know, when the world made sense. You should have seen yourself that day, eyes prideful and full of hope for the future. All I see now are the angry burning eyes of a killer. Ryenar must be laughing at us all down here...”

Heremond had gone back to looking for a new opening, a new place to strike. He remembered his wedding day. The sun was warm and the fragrance of the grass was sweet. A beautiful summer day five years ago. A day the Heremond would remember for the rest of his day as one of the most joyous moments of his life. Now here he was, covered in the blood of men who had once drunk toasts to his good health. Ryenar was laughing alright. He spat.

“Shit changes when everything you were hopeful for starts to be burned,” Heremond replied, still searching. Wymar was clearly favoring one leg over the other, it showed in the way he stood. “And you had a hand in that Wymar.”

Wymar tried to say something. But it was too late, Heremond was already attacking. He made for a jab at Wyamr’s chest. Just as in the last attack, Wymar tried to block the blow. But the time Heremond wanted it to happen. The two blades meet. Heremond deflecting in such a way that Wymars blade was caught in the cross guard of Heremond blade. Hermond twisted his wrist and clinched the blade. He knew had control. Wymar tried to free his blade, but Heremond held as hard as he could, pulling the now defenseless Wymar closer, delivering a savage kick to his opponents wounded leg.

Wymar gasped as the sharp pain caused his vision to blur and bile to rise into his throat. The next thing Wymar knew was that he was on the ground, a heavy foot on his chest. He looked up, those burning angry eyes of a killer were now staring down at him, and once more a sword point was at his neck. All he could do was pray for his Rufila and little Ian. I am so sorry, so, so sorry he thought as tears came to his eyes.

“You came here, you burnt, you killed men, women, and children. Now I will spill your blood, just as I will spill Cedric's, just as I will to Julek's.” Heremond said in a voice that no longer sounded like his own a voice the terrified even himself. A small part deep inside was screaming at him to show mercy, to let this man live. It was drowned by the shout for blood, for vengeance.

The silversteel blade poised to strike. Heremond brought the blade down.


After a few minutes of searching through the battlefield, he found Heremond, standing over what appeared to be another noble. Mettius quickly dismounted and ran towards the lords. He recognized Wymar, another Reacheon Noble that was subservient to the Gardener crown. As Mettius closed the distance with long strides that made his armor emit a heavy clinking noise, Heremond raised his sword to finish off the noble.

It was as he brought down the blade when Mettius reached out with his hand and grabbed Heremond's forearm, using all his might to restrain the angry lord. "Heremond," he said. "Heremond!" He repeated, and finally, the Duke relented. "Look around you, the battle is won. Let us end the bloodshed upon these hills." He spoke, before releasing Heremond's sword arm.


Things were moving as if they were in a dream. Everything was so vivid, the smoke that was wafting into the valley from the magical fire set on the Crest. The brownish read of the blood and mud. They way every sound seemed to be muffled like his ears were filled with cotton, the distant cries of the battle as it wound down, the whimpering of wounded men. All distant and irrelevant to Heremond. All that mattered was that his sword spilled the blood of Wymar Wakefield. Even now, that tiny piece of Heremond Carcaster that hadn't been consumed by that need was begging him to stop. That if he killed this man, he could never go back. Never go back to the Heremond of before, the one who had stared into the future with hope as he took his wife's hand. That would die the moment Wymars life drained away.

"Heremond," a voice called to him. Was it his father's? He felt a strong hand on his sword arm "Heremond." No, it was not his father. It was another voice, one that he knew a well as his father. A voice that commanded the same amount of respect. It was Mettius’ voice and Mettius’ hand that stayed his blade. That small part of himself sighed in relief. The rest was not so ready to give up the chance to spill the blood of a man who was responsible for the rape of the dutchies countryside.

“Why should he live? Why, Mettius? He is as responsible for the crimes against my people as Cedric and Julek are.” Heremond's voice was more like a snarl. It was as if a wild animal was speaking through the young duke.

“The bloodshed had to stop at some point m’lord,” Mettius replied, in his ever calm and clear voice.

All Heremond could stare. Stare at the elf who had been a part of his life since the day he was born. A man he had called friend, a trusted counselor. And deep down Heremond knew he was right. What would killing Wymar do? Would the burnt villages be rebuilt? Would the fathers who died here today return home? Would the children weeping in the allies of High Rock regain the innocence after seeing the face of war? No. They wouldn’t. Killing Wymar wouldn't do anything but breed more hate and draw more blood.

“Take Wymar away, he's no a prisoner of High Rock,” Heremond drew closer to Mettius, close enough so that the word he said would only be heard by him, “The next time I kill a man, it will be Cedric Gardner, and if you dare stop me I will see you ran out of the Reach.”

Mettius managed to crack a dry smile, "If I do, I'll see to it myself."

Heremond walked off. The battle had been won, but he felt hollow inside.

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New York Times Democracy

Postby Tomia » Tue May 14, 2019 10:54 pm

Another amazing collaborative post from YB featuring Zarkenis Ultima and Finland SSR
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:
August 2nd

A few hours had passed since the meeting Naja had called in order to let the teens know about the new structure the team was under, and quite a bit had happened since then - namely an argument about the legitimacy of those who were picked as squad leaders. Things were sure to have cooled by now, but even so, a certain pink-haired alien decided to take the advice of one of the newest members of the team and see if she could do something to help the situation. It was these intentions that brought her to Renata's door, and the girl hesitated for a moment before curling a claw and knocking on it.

"Nata?" She called out. "Are ya there?"

When the sound of the knock and Kiris's soft voice reached her ears, Renata had been lying on her bed, trying to let off some of her frustration by immersing herself in a romantic novel. The heroine immediately tossed her book at the side and leapt on her feet, however, walking up to the door and unlocking it.

"Kiris?" Renata spoke as soon as she opened the door, a hint of surprise in her voice. "Um... what is it?"

The Hadrian smiled as soon as she heard the door open, and gave Renata a little wave. "Hi! I hope I'm not botherin' ya. I just thought I'd come and check on ya." She greeted the other girl cordially, though her tone quickly shifted from cheerful to a little more serious as she continued. "Ya see, um, ya didn't really seem like yourself back at the meetin', ya know? You're usually really nice from what I've seen, so I was just wonderin'... is there anythin' that's botherin' ya? Did somethin' happen and that's why ya were feelin' so aggressive earlier?" She inquired, before realizing she might come across as too pushy and offering Renata a sheepish, apologetic smile. "Um, sorry if it seems like I'm pryin', I just want to make sure everything's fine."


Overwhelmed by the sudden worry and inquiries from Kiris, Renata stood by the door for a few seconds, unsure how to respond. Finally, however, the pinkhead released a sigh, folded her arms and replied:

"It's nothing... And no, Kiris, everything's not fine, thanks for asking." Realizing that she may have spoken with a bit too much venom in her voice, Renata stopped and shook her head. "And uh... I suppose I should be sorry that you got to see me act like that."

"Oh..." The Hadrian mumbled upon hearing Renata's rather violent reply. She knew that her anger wasn't directed at her - after all, she didn't do anything to anger her... did she? - but at the same time, it was hard to feel welcome after that, even if the other girl apologized for earlier.

"Um, if that's the case, maybe ya want to talk about it? Maybe that would make ya feel better." She offered, trying to be supportive towards her friend and hoping to help resolve whatever was troubling her - after all, nobody inside the team benefited from the enmity that was brewing between her and others.

"Unless you'd prefer not to...?"

Renata turned around and took a few steps back into her room while Kiris spoke, and placed her hand on the wall to lean onto it while her head continued to wonder from place to place. She really tried to avoid talking about this to anyone, none of the Young Bloods were... really involved, after all, but now that Kiris's inquiring to her about it, she is really not going to avoid it any more, is she?

"I don't get it," Renata muttered, then turned her eyes to glance over her shoulder towards Kiris. "I mean... I don't get you."

The pink-haired heroine took a sigh and turned around. "From what I've heard so far, you... haven't been doing much better than I was. First all that happened with Marionette in Hilton Tower, then getting kidnapped, arrested and imprisoned by Warwolf... I'm sure it felt terrible and all, but, you're still kicking, you're still upbeat and friendly towards everyone and everything, and you're out here worrying about me even though I've acted so hostile towards you and everyone else. And I..."

Renata plopped down on her bed, looking down to the floor of the room. "I've had to worry over Icarus every single day while being unable to do anything about it... I almost died a few days ago, all alone, and unable to defend myself... and my head feels like it's about to split. All that pressure keeps weighing me down, and now it turns out that I'm not even recognized for what I've done to this team." Offering a glance towards Kiris, Renata struck a sardonic smile. "I couldn't manage what you're doing to me right now if our roles were switched."

Kirisvala wasn't sure what to say or do. She was, of course, hoping that Renata would open up about whatever was troubling her - that was why she was here after all - but this was far more than she'd expected. Who was Icarus? And why did Renata claim she nearly died when this was the first she'd ever heard of that?! She resisted the urge to question her about this immediately, however, knowing that it was clearly a sore spot and that just prying wasn't likely to help matters. Instead, she opted to walk over and sit down next to the troubled heroine, carefully placing a claw on her back in an attempt to comfort her.

"I... I'm sorry to hear you're under all that pressure, Renata. I had no idea... I don't think any of our friends had any idea. But ya know, maybe that's part of the problem?" She offered in an attempt to be constructive. "I mean, when I was in that prison cell, I felt very lonely and sad. But that just made me that much happier when all of ya came to rescue me. I felt really grateful to have all these dependable friends and teammates." She smiled at Renata as she spoke. "Maybe ya would feel less pressure if ya tried to depend a little more on your friends and get along better with the rest of the team?"

"Well... I'm not sure. I can tell that it comes naturally for you, but... I feel like most of this team doesn't really like me. Well, they definitely don't like me now." Renata muttered in response, her eyes fixated on the floor, even upon feeling Kiris's gentle and warm touch on her back.

"Honestly, and it might sound weird, but it's odd that I'm even a member of this team. I had been a member of a superhero team before I arrived to San Diego and... I hated it. I swore that I wouldn't join something like that again and try to push my way through only with my merits instead, and yet, now I'm here."

Renata offered a glance towards Kiris. "Seeing all the pressure I've put on myself, all the restraint and danger which looking after twenty other teenage heroes creates, and now the fact that I don't even seem to fit with the team's philosophy... what am I even doing here?"

"Don't... don't say that..."

Kirisvala's soft voice betrayed her sadness at hearing her friend's words. What was she to do? Renata clearly didn't feel welcome in the team anymore, for reasons she still couldn't quite discern, and... as much as she wanted to encourage her to stay, if the other girl hated the idea of being on a team in the first place, the question was valid: what was she doing there?

"I-I mean... I don't think most of the team hates you. I certainly don't. It's just... maybe it would help if you didn't shove people to the side?" She said, only to realize that her words might be seen as hostile and quickly carry on. "A-and I don't know what made you hate the idea of a team, or leave your previous one... but, if you joined the Young Bloods, there was a reason for it, right?"

Seeing Kiris look and speak so distraught eroded at Renata herself, and while the Hadrian attested that most of the team doesn't in fact hate her, a somber frown formed on her face. Kiris certainly did not resent her, for sure - she wouldn't be here listening to her concerns otherwise - but what about the others? And, more importantly, what about the fact that she resented some of her team's members just as much. How is that a good foundation for teamwork?

"The reason why I joined the Young Bloods?.." Renata repeated Kiris's question, thinking for a few seconds before opening her mouth again. "I guess... when I fought alongside you against the Blood ring, I figured that I could achieve much more if I worked together with my schoolmates than alone. I'm not sure, though, how much that's true and how much it's just me making a snap decision to join this team on the fly."

Renata's eyes turned towards Kiris. "Because the one thing I fear as much as death is just ending up forgotten, as just a yet another average teammate. I don't want to become a footnote in someone else's story, you know? And I guess that's why I ended up lashing out the way I did... I guess it wounds me more than anyone else to see myself unrecognized."

"I don't get it." The Hadrian said flatly after hearing her friend out. "What do ya mean, 'another average teammate'? I don't think any of us is average. Aren't we all pretty extraordinary if we managed to end up in this team in the first place?" She offered Renata the briefest of smiles before continuing. "And I don't think you're unrecognized, Renata. I appreciate what ya do, I was very happy that ya came to help rescue me with the rest of the team. And I'm sure there's other people who appreciate what you do and the help you lend others, both in the team and outside of it. Didn't ya save Lexi once? And ya helped out that blond guy a lot, too." She said, giving Renata a light squeeze on the shoulder, one that wouldn't hurt.

"And I mean, ya said ya joined the team to be a part of somethin' big, didn't ya? Well, you are! The busted Blood ring and all the people we saved by gettin' rid of it, ya were a big part of that. We're doin' a lot of good as a team. Doesn't that make ya happy?"

Kiris's words left Renata contemplative and staring to the floor. There was truth to what the Hadrian said. As much as she abhorred talking to some of the members of her team and as much as she felt her pride and being scorned after what happened a few hours ago... that wasn't everything she's found in this team, was it? She's fought alongside them for almost a month, gone through hot and cold, she's met people like Scott and Elle in the team and Icarus outside of it...

And, come to think of it, wasn't the very existence of this conversation proof that there are people in this team who actually do care for her, and see her as a valuable teammate? Surely, Kiris wasn't alone, either...

"I'm sure that, if I were an ordinary teen from California who happened to acquire powers and join a fresh hero team, I'd feel pretty extraordinary. And I'm sure you do too... but that's not really the case with me and..." Renata muttered, defending herself on Kiris's first point, then, as soon as her mind reached her last one, she let out a sigh. In all these ramblings, she's managed to come across the one thing in her life which she always feared to touch.

"Something big... Kiris, do you ever get the feeling that..."

Renata's eyes turned towards the Hadrian and her hand carefully touched the claw wrapped around her shoulder.

"...that nothing you do really matters? Not because it actually doesn't matter, but because your life has already been pre-ordained? Because, despite what you might want and how much you strive for it, no matter how many people you save or friends you make, there is a force behind you which wants to hear none of it? And you can't fight it, or run from it, because it still arrives and..."

Renata's voice had turned somber, but before she could break even further, the pink-haired heroine shook her head, removed Kiris's claw from her shoulder and muttered. "I'm sorry, maybe I'm going too far... I don't question myself like that."

As Renata grabbed her claw and moved it away, Kiris let out a sigh, looking down at the ground. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't help but feel that her words weren't getting through to Renata - or at least, they weren't having the desired effect. It felt like there was too much for the Ecuadorian to work through, and she didn't know how much she could help out with that.

With her eyes still fixed on the floor of the other girl's bedroom, Kiris mulled over the question. It was a very emotionally charged one, that much was clear, and as the Hadrian recalled what little Renata had shared with her in the past about her life before coming to San Diego, she felt like she had a pretty good idea of where it was going.

"I... I can't say I've felt that before. That nothing I did mattered." The Hadrian stated. "I did feel isolated in the past, because there were people who had plans for me that I didn't want to take part in, and they made my life really sad because I refused to follow those plans." She continued, only to let out a sad little chuckle.

"But I guess that's not really comparable to your situation." She said, looking back up at Renata. "After all, I did get to run away. That's why I'm here on Earth."

The Hadrian paused for a brief moment, letting out another sigh. "Anyways, I... I don't know what to tell ya." She admitted. "I guess I wasn't much help after all..."

Renata offered Kiris an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry if I got you worried so much about me. You know... a hero is not supposed to leave someone worried, right? They're there to give hope, not take it away... or at least that's what my father would say."

Glancing back towards the floor of the room, Renata paused for a moment before continuing. "But... I suppose it helps to get this off my chest for once - and I'm not sure if I could have managed to share this with anyone else on the team, too. I try to avoid all of that myself, I've been trying to push them aside with excuses, but that only means it all builds up, overflows, all my emotions and the stress of being a hero lights the match and... you know what happened."

The pink-haired heroine suddenly turned her head towards Kiris, staring into her eyes. "You have this... well, I wouldn't call it charisma, more of a sincerity, that... just makes people feel better when you're around, you know? If there was someone like Roy, or Wyatt, or maybe even all the other girls, I... probably would have just kept my mouth shut. What if they make fun of me, or dismiss me as just an angry spoiled hothead, or worse? I didn't feel as worried when I had to explain myself to you..." Renata's voice turned somber and her eyes shifted to the side. "You... obviously weren't around to witness it, but the day of your capture, the entire team was frustrated and livid. Casimir was angry, Wyatt was angry, Mike was angry at everyone... and it was complete disorder. As if we lost the glue holding everything together."

The alien girl nodded at her friend when she said that heroes were a symbol of hope, and then smiled faintly as she mentioned how it was easy for her to open up about this to her, and that it helped to get it off her chest. However, hearing about how distraught everyone had been after her capture was enough to snuff out her brief moment of joy. Everyone had been angry and frustrated over it... had she really caused them that much pain by allowing herself to be caught? It made her feel guilty, not because of what she did - she wouldn't have saved the life of a man if she had acted any different, after all - but because she was careless.

"I didn't know that..." She mumbled, less than happy about it. She supposed it made sense - she would've been livid if any of her teammates had been captured too, even Red. Her mind briefly wandered back to the time he was arrested, barely after the team had made its debut. Was the meeting after she was captured like that? Was it worse?

"I guess I'll have to be more careful in the future. I'd hate it if somethin' like that happened again because of me." She stated, before forcing herself to smile again. "But, I'm happy that the team cares so much about me. I care a lot about all of ya, too." She said sincerely, before placing her hands on Renata's shoulders. "And I'm sure ya can find other people on the team you can befriend and open up to, but until then, I'll be happy to hear ya out whenever ya need it."

Suddenly, the alien girl pulled her friend into a warm, tender hug.


Renata's face betrayed some hesitation, especially when she got pulled into a hug, but regardless, she gave in, wrapped her hands around Kiris much like the Hadrian had around hers, and muttered:


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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Rostavykhan » Tue May 21, 2019 6:05 pm

I hope you have an afternoon to spare for some reading.

That is all.

This was a collaborative post between several other members of VTTM, which took place over the course of a month...? maybe longer? I'm not in this particular story arc, so I wasn't involved in the writing. There's still more to come, supposedly. It's easily the longest collaborative post I've ever seen on NS. God have mercy upon whoever endeavors to read the entire thing.
Last edited by Rostavykhan on Tue May 21, 2019 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Menschenfleisch » Tue May 21, 2019 8:36 pm

Rostavykhan wrote:I hope you have an afternoon to spare for some reading.

That is all.

This was a collaborative post between several other members of VTTM, which took place over the course of a month...? maybe longer? I'm not in this particular story arc, so I wasn't involved in the writing. There's still more to come, supposedly. It's easily the longest collaborative post I've ever seen on NS. God have mercy upon whoever endeavors to read the entire thing.

The first and second segments were written by Naval Monte and Skylus. The other segments were written by Menschenfleisch and Naval, with significant input from Skylus. The collaboration was compiled by Demincia. The collaboration occurred from the 13th of April to the 5th of May.
Last edited by Menschenfleisch on Tue May 21, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Left-Leaning College State

Postby Cylarn » Sun May 26, 2019 6:51 am

Top OG wrote:Meanwhile ~

After the shooting in the middle of the school the San Diego Police are alerted and send three cop cars towards the school which are stuck in traffic and will take five minutes to reach the scene.


The police bring assault rifles and police dogs hoping to terrorize the schools minorities. They also turn their body cameras off for the raid on the school but they are still stuck in traffic. (TRAFFIC ROLL 1d20 = 3) the cops are stuck in traffic and will not arrive for ten minutes.
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Postby Forest State » Fri May 31, 2019 12:20 am

From Dynasties, displaying both worldbuilding and some of the best internal politics in the thread yet.

Turmenista wrote:

The skies were dark and cloudy, lit up periodically by a light show of white flashes in the heavens. The rumbling of thunder almost drowned out an even more ominous roar in the background—that of a large, airborne beast that was coming in for landing in the entrance of the cave atop the hook-shaped mountain.

The dragon's silent approach filled the otherwise quiet cave with the loud whoosh of large wings flapping, followed by the sound of something large coming down onto the ground and landing, rattling the loose rocks in an ugly tone and shaking the cavern. The ground stopped shaking as the rumbling thunder ceased, eventually being completely drowned out by the uniform steps of the creature, who continued into the bowels of the cave system. Slowing down to a halt at the end of the gate ahead of him, the beast, soaked in rain from the outside storm, shook himself dry, giving a sigh in relief, knowing that he was safe from the rain for now. Of course, the rain was only at its lightest — a precursor to the heavy monsoon-like downpours that would grace them later in the day. It rained little on this part of Hygard during this season, but when it eventually did rain, it rained like hell.

The dragon continued through the cavern, coming across a large, heavily-fortified gate with a sizable contingent of silent, stoic and armored soldiers in red and black awaiting him. Similarly-armed men with polearms stood at the ready against any and all threats, even those who dared to enter through the caverns. They parted way immediately for the lumbering beast, whom folded his wings inward and continued through the cavern at a steady pace. His appearance now seemed to resemble the heraldic banners by the gate: a dark, reptilian figure with eyes that seemed to glow in the darkness.

His bronze scales were lit up a golden color once he passed the torches and waited for the massive doors to finish opening, where the highest ranking soldier—distinguished from the others by his black cape, larger shoulder pauldrons, and lack of a helmet—greeted him. He gave a powerful salute to the dragon as the doors finished opening, mirrored by the soldiers standing adjacent to him. His right hand was placed over his heart, palm facing downward and the fingers touching. "Hail, Lord Vastorith!" The man called.

"As you were, General Marcion." Vastorith returned the salute with a dip of his head in acknowledgement. They continued into the keep as the doors let the two of them in, closing behind them promptly afterwards.

General Marcion Vonnegut was a well-rounded man and one of his most dutiful soldiers, perhaps almost on the level of a certain "Bastard" in House Graves, the degenerate household which he had usurped. He had lead the mercenary army Vastorith hired to lay siege to Talon Rock...and now, he had been gifted with the position of general of Vastorith’s own proper army for his service. Knowing someone like Marcion was on his side put a smile on Vastorith's face, as he could always rely on someone so loyal, so professional, and so diligent. A nice, high-up spot definitely awaited him in the new house he'd make atop House Graves. "I suppose everything is in order, my loyal commander?"

"Aye, m'lord." Marcion replied with a nod, the two walking together through a bejeweled hallway carved out by miners, which seemed to turn into an extension of the palace itself once a proper floor with marble and carved stone bricks began to replace the rough stone of the cavern. "House Graves is busy celebrating their so-called "Heir," Gideon Graves, in Deermeadow. Everyone was invited.. including you, m'lord."

Vastorith scoffed. He knew this wasn't true—as usual, they'd be closed off to everyone who either wasn't rich, or wasn't connected to House Graves in some way. By extent, this meant their parties were strictly human only—As if I even wanted to go to one of their stupid parties. A growl came from his throat, perhaps out of disgust for the Graves Family and their antics. "Everyone? Is that so? Hah! How ironic, for I saw that much of the city is still going about their business. Maybe they use these parties to talk about me behind my back. Such fools. I have eyes and ears on every corner of this realm—whatever they say about me while I am not present is reported to me at once."

Marcion nodded. "That's right, m'lord. But, I'm curious, what do you think about their parties?"

Vastorith snorted, knowing the answer right away to his question. "Their foolish 'parties' bore me, General. At most, they annoy me, by how frequent and disgusting they are. If there is one thing I've learned about you humans, it's that you are very social creatures...almost too social. Those parties are excellent examples of this."

"Agreed, sir. Even I get perturbed by their parties at times, m'lord." Marcion admitted.

"Every time I turn my head around or inspect my hoard, there seems to be an announcement for an elaborate ball or banquet at every passing moment, while their people live in... mediocrity. Is this what they put their resources towards? While I fund the military, they fund.. parties?" The dragon continued, his tone tinged with disappointment. "It is as if the only thing these simpletons can think about is partying. Partying today, partying tomorrow, partying forever." The bronze dragon grunted, a laugh building in his throat as he thought up a joke. "Maybe that's reason their brains have so many little holes in them—almost like a fine cheese one can find in the market. It is because they drink too much. All day, every day. All that ale and wine burns away their minds just as much as it does their body, and in those gaps made from the holes in their cheese-brains, they are filled with thoughts of drinking more ale. Eating more bread. Having more sex.” He growled deeply, scowling at his own thoughts of their hedonistic parties. “Pathetic.”

Vastorith grunted in frustration. "Have they even the slightest idea of what the concept of a "break" is? Of how great it feels to relax for a moment one day, to stretch yourself and rest, without partying and eating and drinking like they are like gods?" He turned away from his subordinate as they walked. "Let me tell you something, General, and know this be true: They are no gods."

"I can drink to that one, mate." Marcion chuckled—a break from his usual professional demeanor. "I don't see why they have a reason to party pretty much any day they choose."

"Have you ever been to one of their parties, General?"

"No, m'lord." Marcion said plainly. "And I don't plan on doing so in the foreseeable future. I'm not a Graves. I'm a Vonnegut. Vonneguts don't party at every waking moment. We train, we fight, and we conquer, as I have, and as my father has, and his father's has. At times, I don't even know whether to call those things 'parties', or 'pop-up brothels.' Those incest-fueled bastards can party all they want and rot away their minds for all I care. They're doomed for a reason, and we both know why.”

"Indeed. And in the ashes of their folly, a new house shall arise on House Graves's foundations. A better house. A stronger, divined house. Made of the strongest warriors and best statesmen in Hygard." The dragon paused for dramatic effect, his eyes scanning over another heraldic banner that decorated the walls. "House Vastorith. And it starts with that heir of theirs, Gideon Graves. Once he is removed from the picture, my plan will be put into motion. When everything falls in line, the sun shall never set on our empire."

Vastorith continued forwards for a few paces, until he was ahead of Marcion, looking down at his loyal general before another grand gate that opened before them, large windows overlooking the entirety of Talon Rock and the not-so-distant estate of Deermeadow, a countryside retreat for House Graves and their hedonistic parties, located not too far outside of the actual city of Talon Rock itself. Vastorith dipped his head as he turned away from the lights of the estate, sighing as he closed his eyes for a moment. "Talon Rock. A city of thousands.. and yet, he seems so.. alone."

"Whom might you be referring to, m’lord?"

The dragon opened his eyes. "Maximilian Townsend. The Bastard of House Graves. General, If he has not yet left for the party, fetch him for me, and bring him to my lair at once. I have much to discuss with him."

Marcion gave a salute to his master in acknowledgement. "Hail! It will be done, Lord Vastorith."

The man turned to the opening gate and continued down another hallway into the palace, whereas Vastorith started down a longer hallway deeper into the bowels of the mountain itself, where his lair—and his hoard—lay waiting for him.

Oh, how he wished he could have a position of power, like the others of House Graves...

Maximilian was miserable. All around him, the nobles and people connected to House Graves flung insults and jests his way, while he walked in the opposite direction towards the inner sanctums of the mountain, brooding over other topics and mostly toning our their laughter. He felt like an outlier in their house, blonde hair aside, as the Townsends were very much known for their flowing blonde hair instead of their reddish, brown, or otherwise black hair. At least, they were known, up until House Townsend was razed and erased by House Graves when Harold took power. On the way into the inner sanctum, he spotted a familiar sight walking his way, dressed for a formal occasion. The woman's brown hair and heterochromic eyes were an immediate giveaway to who she was: Lady Evelyn Graves, another noblewoman of House Graves, whom he waved to as just a sign of friendliness. At the least, the best he could do to House Graves was resist their constant ridicule and turn the other cheek. Being nice helped.. right?

She stopped momentarily and smiled, reassuring him for the slightest moment. It seemed not everyone was hostile to him.. at least, in his eyes. "Evening, Lady Evelyn. Are you on your way to the party in Deermeadow?"

"Yes, Max, I am." The woman said. "Are you?"

Before he could get the words out of his mouth, she beat him to it, taking on a fake guise of surprise with a gasp. "Oh, that's right. You aren't. Poor thing. I'm afraid only those who are members of House Graves or associates are allowed. You are not." She chuckled snobbily. "Members of House Graves should be 'stable' and 'dependable'—you are none of these, Maximilian."

The woman smirked, turning away and leaving with a farewell wave, leaving Maxwell sulking once again as he made his way through the palace, closing his emerald green eyes and sighing in disappointment. He made a mental reminder to go for Evelyn first once he had more power—surely, a snobby wench like herself wouldn't last long once he had his chance with her.

The actual place itself was partially built into Mount Talon, providing it with natural fortification in times of well as an impromptu and excellent home for their new draconian master. To be honest, Maximilian was jealous that Vastorith had such a nice place. It was the perfect spot for someone as regal as he was, as the hollowed out interior of the spacious cave was filled with mountainous piles of loot, gold, and other spoils of war and past adventures of the ancestors of House Graves, as well as spoils from Vastorith's own plunders. The remote, difficult-to-access location of the hoard meant that very few could make it in alive past all the guards, if not the dragon himself, and the place itself was rather quiet and relaxing...almost too quiet and relaxing. From the few times he'd been in there, he could distinctly remember seeing a great throne built specifically for the dragon, much like a throne one would find in an impossibly massive royal hall for a king, covered in more gold and encrusted jewels that one could ever want in their life, along with millions of other shiny riches scattered around the cave.

As he made his way towards the fortified doors in, Max wondered what Vastorith actually did all day. Did he sleep around? Maybe stretch and fly a bit? Or, better yet, take a trip down to the lovely cenote that was elsewhere inside of Mount Talon and take a refreshing dip in the water? The point was, Vastorith had it all. A nice place, comfortable status, and as much power as he desired to do as he wished with House Graves—all things which Max lacked, yet desired at the same time. That dragon was the only form of reconciliation and solace Max had in this Asignaforsaken household, and one of the few people who blatantly didn't hate his guts. Most importantly, he was his only chance at gaining the legitimacy to ascend the social hierarchy, if that was even possible.

He heard the clanking of armor ahead of him, knowing exactly who—or, rather, what, was approaching. One of "Vastorith's Knights" appeared at the end of the hallway, his crimson cape flowing behind him. Maximilian knew little of what lay behind the armor of these shield and arming sword-wielding men, but he knew they comprised the most elite fighters of House Vastorith, being silent warriors who were responsible for enforcing Vastorith's rule throughout his House. They were the judge, jury, and executioner of their part of Hygard, and everyone knew messing around with them would give them a bad time. This one in particular seemed to be a veteran, given the ornate pattern on his skirt.

The knight stopped beside Maximilian, giving a salute to the blonde haired man. "Master Townsend, Lord Vastorith requires your presence at once. Please follow me."

Maximilian couldn't really respond aside from a meek "Ok," beginning to quiver from the sheer magnitude of such a summon. Of course, the two talked frequently, but being in the presence of a beast of such physical and psychological power as Vastorith surely was something that could shake you to your core.

The duo continued deeper into the palace, approaching two grand gates before the entrance of a grand cave. Another knight waited by the grand doors, watching as the two approached. Like the one escorting Maximilian, his identity was, too, concealed by the helmet he wore. They waited for a moment by the doors, until a powerful, baritone voice from inside ordered them inside. "ENTER."

Maximilian was not expecting such a powerful voice. It shook his bones to his core, but both knights seemed totally unfazed by this. They opened the doors and escorted Maximilian down into the cavern...which was as grand and as regal as ever. White crystals rivaling the size of the great beasts of Aarde had sprouted up beside the steps down into the cavern, making a sort of natural railing as the stray light of torches from precise angles gave them a strange white glow, of something unnatural, yet beautiful, at the same time. The stairs descended down into the cave, where the combination of natural lighting and strategically-placed torches gave the dragon's hoard a shimmering, watery illusory effect from their height. The place itself also had a very strange feeling to it, too—an odd feeling of knowing you are standing hundreds of feet above terra firma on the mountain, but also feeling as if you were simply on the ground level of something massive.

Once they came down to the actual "ground level" of the cave, they could see the hoard in full detail, noting each and every colored jewel, gem, and crystal scattered in the ocean of coins and loot. A massive, kingly throne had been made exclusively for the dragon, who sat upon his larger-than-life seat while watching the clear waters flow through the cenote, a shiny fish passing by the "island" every so often. Vastorith was attended to by five of his "concubines," little more than glorified servant-girls whom he had requested himself. Each of them were busy at work with a menial task of tending to the dragon's needs, such as thoroughly and gingerly cleaning each individual scale and claw on his body, massaging his neck or wing muscles, or whispering sweet nothings into his ears. His head turned to face Maximilian, nearly sweeping one of the women up from her feet as he looked down upon the two knights flanking the blonde man with amber eyes.

Not uttering a word, the two knights executed an about face and promptly left the cenote, making their way back up the stairs into the palace. As for the concubines, Vastorith gave off a growling noise, more akin to the purr of a big cat of the savannas or deserts of Aea. "Leave us."

His command was followed by dutiful execution—each of the five women promptly left, making sure to wave at Maximilian on their way out. Once he was sure that they were out of earshot, Vastorith chuckled, lowering his head down to his feet. as he stretched himself. "They make great servants, you know. Not just for cleaning, but for other tasks, tending to all of my needs and...desires. Generation-slaves, House Graves called them. Tenants practically bred to suit the royal family's every needs, ready to work on any task, without question... Oh, if only I could find some that could make great mothers to an heir."

Unsettled by his cryptic remarks, Max knelt down before the dragon, trembling slightly as he dipped his face down. "Lord Vastorith, the Despoiler, Kingslayer, Eater of Men, Hero of Hygard, and many other great ti-"

"A reminder, Max: you don't have to speak in the royal 'dialect' when you are in my presence." Vastorith grinned, showing rows of sharp teeth as he chuckled, much to Maximilian's chagrin. "Buddy."

"...Right." The blonde man stood up from the ground, brushing himself off. "So... why have I been summoned?"

"Sit with me." Vastorith commanded, his figure sliding to the side for a moment to allow Max to make his way across the bridge to the throne at the center of the cenote, clambering up onto the massive throne as best as he could. Of course, it was more akin to sitting atop the pedestal of a statue, given its massive size. "I summoned you to talk." Vastorith began, a massive and long tail wrapping around one end of the chair, inching uncomfortably close Max. "I wanted to talk with you. About the present, the future. I require a heir if I am to properly replace House Graves and bury their degeneracy for good. You know this. I said 'by any means necessary,' though I do not want to.. test this, unless completely necessary."

"Alright." Max said plainly. "Just don't do anything that would ironically paint yourself as a degenerate."

"I do what I want because I can, and I do only what is necessary for survival." The dragon chuckled. "Besides, a human is fine, too."

"You're a fool." The blonde man shook his head, laughing. "What're you getting on about, with this "heir" stuff, anyways?"

Vastorith paused momentarily, perhaps deep in thought or brooding over some topics of his own—Max couldn't tell. He began suddenly, watching a fish swim by in the cenote. "When the world will inevitably witness my truth and my goal in destroying House Graves, life will go on as normal, You know the majority of the world's treatment towards degeneracy—they will learn to thank me for what I have done rather than fear and despise me."

He gave a lengthy sigh. "I, however, need a heir. Someone to take the first giant step into a brave new world, to represent me and my new, growing household, be it a human, dragon, or anything else in between. House Vastorith will live on, through people like you and me. First, we set the groundwork. Then, my heirs finish what we started."

"Touching." Maximilian noted, a tinge of snark in his voice. "Poetry aside, is that what this is all about? You want a heir?"


Max gave a sigh. "I'm sorry, mate, but I haven't seen any dragon around these parts in years, aside from you. Finding a mate might be harder than it sounds."

"Then I'll make one."

"You can't be serious, Vastorith."

"It's worth trying."

Maximilian chuckled awkwardly, trying to get the image out of his head, up until the dragon chuckled along himself. Maybe, he, too, was in on the joke? Max didn't bother figuring out what else Vastorith was thinking up in his head—for all he cared, he could've been secretly plotting some massive conspiracy all while cracking abstract jokes. "Alright, Vastorith. Jokes aside, why am I really here?"

"I thought you'd never ask, friendo." The dragon purred, raising his head up from the throne for a moment and smiling once again. "Maximilian, I require your services for a... task, of mine, if you will." This filled Max with even more dread as he gulped, knowing exactly what sort of task Vastorith had planned for him. "Let me guess," he began. "It's the party?"

Vastorith nodded, growling. Steam rose from his nostrils as he got up from the massive throne, circling it as he spoke. "As you are most definitely aware, House Graves has a new heir: Gideon Graves, who is most likely due to marry his sister, the lovely Pamela Graves. Incestuous bastards.” Vastorith paused to growl in disgust. “That incompetent cuckold of a man known as Harold Graves thinks he can defy me—no, disrespect me—by naming Gideon his heir without my approval. While they have their own little fun, we will plan and plot their downfall. While I will deal with Pamela Graves, I need Gideon Graves removed from the equation as soon as possible..."

The dragon paused for dramatic effect. "And here... is where you come in.”

“I don’t know if we can do that—“ Maximilian was about to cut himself off, but quickly realized it was too late. The beast gave off an inhuman roar that shook the cave, an orange glow rising in his throat and beneath his neck scales for the slightest moment. Maximilian could feel the temperature of the room rise rapidly for a moment and looked for cover, fearing the worst would happen.

“You are a FOOL, Maximilian!” Vastorith shouted, his voice like thunder that shook Maximilian to his core, causing him to plug his ears and cower on the throne. “Do you doubt me and my abilities? Do you doubt yourself and your abilities? Do you think I am unwise, unfit to rule over these lands? NO! Absolutely not. I, Vastorith, will NOT be defied by some cuckold like Harold Graves, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. My scales are an impenetrable barrier, my wings the winds of a storm, my breath like a raging inferno, and my will supreme. Ask him yourself, Maximilian. Ask Harold Graves the question: ‘What is a king to a god?’ That fool learned his lesson once—and I will see to it that he shall again.”

Pausing once more as Maximilian gulped audibly, the dragon lowered his head down to Max’s level, the intimidating glow of the dragon’s eyes causing him to shake once more. The whole situation was almost hypnagogic and dream-like, as if Max were standing in the presence of an incredibly powerful being—no, a living god. “And you, Maximilian Townsend… you are my weapon. The end of House Graves and their degeneracy is nigh, and we shall build a new house atop theirs. However, if we are ever to see this plan come into fruition, the Graves will need to be removed. You will kill Gideon Graves for me, I shall do the same for Harold. And in their folly—no, their chaos—House Vastorith will grow stronger with each passing day. Only then, when Gideon Graves is removed, will the next stage of my plan come into play, and when you will have your first taste in unlimited power, and revenge against House Graves.

The beast suddenly pulled back. “In all this, remember: this is our little secret.” He gave a toothy grin. “Buddy. I trust you can keep your mouth shut, Maximilian. So, what do you say? Have I made myself clear?”

Reluctantly, Maximilian nodded, his green eyes locking with Vastorith’s once more. “Yes… master.

At least I'm somewhat dressed for the occasion.

Deermeadow's banquet hall was full of friends to the Graves Family, their associates, bureaucrats, and other generally "powerful" people of the fledgling House Vastorith, all of whom had connections to the royal family. Of course, Maximilian knew the real reason of why Lord Vastorith himself wasn't at the party—he'd heard the dragon's gripes one too many times and knew how he felt about their "stupid parties." Vastorith did have enough spies and knights around the realm to know what was happening, but he feared events like these parties could be used to discreetly talk about him behind his back. He couldn't blame him—it made for the perfect area for covert conversation and plotting.

The event wasn't any sort of masquerade ball or banquet, but rather, a regular ball with dancing and food and whatnot. He could see at the far end of the banquet hall a seat for two people, whom were both being attended to by maids. Lord Harold Graves sat with his wife—and his mother—Lady Meridia Graves at this table, the latter pouting about something on her mind while the former rubbed his right hand profusely. It was what the doctors called "Phantom Limb Pain," that being the pain that came about from the loss of one's limb—in this case, Harold's right hand. It had since been replaced by a prosthetic, but Harold saw it as a memento, perhaps to never mess with the dragon again... or, rather, to remember the one who caused him so much pain, and had usurped his house.

Shuddering at the sight of Harold's sour face, Maximilian suddenly heard a foppish and familiar voice behind him, immediately cringing as he realized who it was. He turned around as his name was called by Lady Evelyn, bringing him face to face with possibly the worst person in House Graves: Humphrey Graves. "Maximilian? Is that you?"

"There's only one Maximilian in this House, Lord Humphrey." Max answered, producing a smile as the very punchable Humphrey mirrored him, grinning widely. "That one would be me."

"Ah, yes, I thought so." Humphrey replied, pausing to take a sip of his drink. "...Although, I'm afraid you're a bit late, Maximilian—some of the other events and festivities have already happened. Lady Evelyn tells me that you were walking the other way in the palace—for what reason?"

Fucking hell, you cunt, can you mind your own business? "I was going to my quarters, that's all." He saw Evelyn's eyes scanning him for any signs of weakness while he only glowered at her in return, then switched his attention back to Lord Humphrey. "Surely, me walking to my quarters is nothing that you must nitpick, m'lord?"

Humphrey chuckled in his usual self-entitled tone. "Remind me, Bastard Maximilian, were you even sent an invitation?"

"I did not require an invitation."

"And why is that?"

Maximilian paused for a moment, a sly grin forming on his face. "Because I'm attending this in lieu of Lord Vastorith himself, and on his orders. If you wish to refute this, I suggest talking to him did send an invitation to this party, did you not?"

It seemed as if all time had stopped for a moment as Maximilian uttered the dragon's name. Of course, Max was well aware of Humphrey's own plans to remove his brother Harold from power by any means necessary, as the two had often engaged in physical power struggles with one another and their armies time and time again in the past, all while the dragon laughed at them from afar. As much as he hated Humphrey and his ugly face, the man would've honestly made a great addition to the little conspiracy he and Vastorith had devised to remove Harold...were it not for the incest-ridden nobleman's deep distrust of the dragon and Maximilian himself. As much as he ironically helped their cause, he also hurt it by serving as a very stubborn obstacle to get past.

Max initially thought he had said the wrong thing when he saw Humphrey's face drain of color, but relaxed as Humphrey laughed and took a sip from his goblet. "Well, yes, I did. Of course, he declined, as he always does. Lady Evelyn was telling me about your little talk with him earlier today. I would never go anywhere near that dragon for the life of me."

"Well, if it's any help to you, I won't mention him anymore today." Maximilian waved the both of them farewell and made his way to one of the tables where wine was being served. He immediately spotted two familiar faces he could recognize anywhere: Pamela and Gideon, both waving and calling the crowd to get their attention, and both looking as if they were living the time of their lives. Maximilian himself would've been happy for them, were they not two of the most pretentious and entitled people here...and people who Vastorith wanted gone, whatever that meant. As soon as Max had filled his own goblet of wine, he saw the Heir's eyes fall onto him, immediately freezing up as the crowd all turned to him in unison. "Aha, yes, it's Maximilian everyone!" Gideon shouted, motioning him over. "Bring yourself and that goblet over here, would you?"


Maximilian made his way through the crowd and stepped up to the heir, presenting him with the goblet. Gideon took it and raised it up for a moment, which the others in the ballroom mirrored. "This is a toast to House Graves and House Vastorith — two houses, now made a whole! As this house's new Heir, I will lead these lands to greatness — a golden age of Hygard. Long live House Graves!"

"Long live House Graves!" The crowd echoed and drank. Almost immediately afterwards, they went back to partying and dancing, but Gideon politely spat the drink out to his side as discreetly as he could. Max raised an eyebrow at this sight, folding his hands behind his back. "Wine didn't go down so well, m'lord?"

Maximilian could tell that Gideon was both enraged and humiliated by his own joke, and a few of the other party-goers were aware as well, a few even laughing as they heard the joke. His face red, Gideon stepped over to the "bastard" and promptly emptied the wine goblet's contents onto the top of the blonde's head, oblivious that his actions were observed with disgust by his fiance and a few other members of House Graves. "Yes, it didn't go down so well. Bloody fool. Fetch me another drink, Maximilian, and make sure it's the one I like."

Reluctantly, he marched back over to the table to pour the Lord another drink, pausing as he checked to make sure no one was looking. Upon figuring everyone was too busy partying, Maximilian flicked his wrist to reveal a small vial full of a colorless liquid: giant spider venom. According to Vastorith's alchemists, a single drop of this venomous concoction could paralyze a human's limb, while large quantities could close airways, cause organs to stop functioning, and outright kill a man in under a minute. However, killing him here would be too obvious. Maximilian knew that giant spider venom, when diluted with the right substances such as alcohol and other herbs and materials, could be used as a sort of "numbing cocktail," causing delirium, fatigue, and lethargy to whoever drank it, making them powerless to any assassin.

He quickly poured the concoction into the goblet and pocketed the vial itself, watching as it seamlessly disappeared into the wine as if nothing had been put into it in the first place. As he returned it to Gideon, the goblet was yanked from his hands and promptly downed by Gideon, who returned it to Max, albeit sloppily. "Bring me aanooouuther please.."

The poison seemed to be taking effect rather quickly, as seen with his slurred speech and sloppy step. Pamela seemed just as confused as the others and motioned to talk, though Max was watching as Gideon waved them away, insisting that he was okay. Maximilian shook his head otherwise. "No.. I don't think so. I think you should call it a day, m'lord. After all, haven't you had a lot to drink?"

Arrogant as ever, Gideon stomped out of the ballroom with a heavy, haggard, and uneven step, much to the chagrin of Pamela. As for people like Maximilian and even Humphrey, this was the perfect opportunity to make their move—to capitalize off of such a show of weakness...

The carriage ride back to Talon Rock was uneventful—at least, it was for Gideon. He lay sprawled out on the backseat of the carriage, the driver and the horses enduring the torrential downpour and rain outside perhaps from sheer willpower alone. All the while, though, Gideon couldn't manage to make out any coherent thoughts without actually straining his mind, and so he spent the good half of the ride back trying to come up with a reason as to why he was like this. His thoughts were racing and bouncing about like a rabbit, but he suddenly remembered back to something—or, rather, someone, who potentially had something to do with this:

Maximilian. That bastard. He did this to me.

He could remember very little from the ball, but what he did know was that something was definitely up with his drink. At first, he only managed to spit it out discreetly and spill it out onto Maximilian, but when he returned with a fresh goblet, something was off, and it wasn't just the taste. Double vision had set in almost immediately, followed by delirium, fatigue, lethargy, and an overall sense of things not being "real" or "right." Even now, he could barely form a coherent sentence, and could only think and wonder what exactly it was that Maximilian had put in his drink.

What he could think about, however, was the amount of shit that Maximilian would be once he was eventually caught for poisoning his drink. He knew that Bastard was untrustworthy and scheming, no doubt with Humphrey or Vastorith, nonetheless. A hefty punishment awaited Maximilian and any and all of his co-conspirators, along with anyone who figured it would be a good idea to laugh at his humiliation.

He was too groggy to concentrate on the gak! sound that came from the front of the carriage from the driver, drowned out by the sound of thunder. Gideon could, however, could feel the increase in speed as the horses ran out of control, somehow breaking free of their restraints as the carriage went over a hill way faster than it normally should've. It fishtailed briefly as it went airborne, crashing down onto the ground and shattering one of its front wheels in the process. Unprepared for such an action, Gideon was launched up from his seat and hit the roof as the carriage began rolling, eventually meeting a final end in the ditch in the form of a tree. Wood from the carriage splintered into the carriage as Gideon's arm was caught between something, unable to be moved. He'd felt a pop in his arm and heard a snap, fearing the worst had happened as he tried to squirm out of his predicament, to no avail. It was at this moment that Gideon saw a sizable splinter of wood embedded into his stuck arm, while one of his legs was twisted to the side in a direction it should not have been twisted in. The lack of overwhelming pain was the most frightening thing of this all.

As he came to his senses, Gideon soon realized that he was on his back, facing the sky, as rain came down onto him through a hole that had been created in the wrecked carriage. He lifted his operable arm out and tried to call out for help, his voice coming out in a meager gasp. No one came right away, his call for help answered only by a wicked lightning bolt that stretched across the sky, along with even more rain in his face. The sound of wet, mushy noises near him made him call out for help once more, his voice much louder now as he waved his free hand. The source of this wet mushy noise was, indeed, footsteps..but not from the help he was looking for.

The cloaked figure looming above him set his crossbow to the side, his face practically indistinguishable, aside from part of his face that wasn't covered up in shadows, namely his nose and mouth. Gideon swore he could see a flash of blonde hair and green eyes from beneath the dark cloak, but this couldn't have been Maximilian. Someone like him, coincidentally, right here when he needed it? Though, the more he studied the figure, Gideon began to have second thoughts, starting with the reveal of the figure's blonde hair, familiar nose and mouth shape... and eventual taking off of his hood altogether.

Maximilian stood above him silently, reaching out an arm. Gideon was about to take the bastard's hand, but only stopped and kept his hand out weakly as Max reached for something else in the crash: a piece of wood that had snapped at a right enough angle to make itself an improvised stake. The color drained from the heir's face as Maximilian leaned forward into the wreck, his gloved hands tight on the sharp piece of wood that he placed in the center of Gideon's chest.

"Allow me to end your pathetic existence with a quote from Vastorith himself." Maximilian spoke in a tone that was not his own, the crescendo of thunder and flash of lightning visible behind him as he spoke. "He says, 'It is folly to play by a set of self-imposed rules, when your enemy plays by none whatsoever.' Tonight, I did not hold back. I did not play by any set of self-imposed rules, for you fickle people of House Graves do not do so at all. I could've just killed you at the ball and gotten it over with, but I didn't. So, I poisoned you, predicted you would take this route home..and laid a trap."

"Why... why are you telling me this?" Gideon struggled beneath the debris as Maximilian looked at the piece of wood for a moment. "I'm telling you this for a simple reason: I can do so without fearing any repercussion. No one is out here, except for me, and you. They'll find you in the morning, but they won't know it was me. They'll just know it was an accident."

"...All for revenge...?"

"No. Not all for revenge." Maximilian shook his head. "I'm doing this to help Vastorith turn this backwards house upside down, to help kickstart a new golden age for House Vastorith, like you said at the party. Doing this means that you, sadly, have to go. But, before you.. you know.. die..." Maximilian paused for a moment, pressing the splinter of wood inwards on the heir's chest slowly. "Tell me, Gideon: Do you believe in God?"

He gave no response to Maximilian, but his bloodcurdling screams for help as the wooden splinter was driven into him were drowned out by the roar of thunder all around them.

Vastorith's eyes opened as frustration filled his throat. Word of Gideon Graves's tragic and 'accidental' death spread quickly throughout the realm, causing many crocodile tears and actual tears to be shed over the passing away of the heir. Vastorith, on the other hand, reveled in excitement, knowing the truth of it all. His plan was proceeding as expected, so now, he could rest, knowing there was much work to be done later.

What frustrated him, however, was the arrival of a lowly messenger-boy who entered his quarters, making his way down the steps and across the cenote to the dragon's massive throne, daring to intrude upon him. Vastorith was busy enjoying a wonderful neck massage from one of his concubines—the nice one who always made pleasant comments about how shiny his scales were and how big his claws were, to be exact—when this insolent fool of a man stepped in, kneeling before the throne.

Vastorith bared his teeth and growled, causing the courier to shake in fear as he looked up to the dragon in a mixture of fear and wonder. "Speak, lowly courier," Vastorith ordered. "What has coerced you into disturbing me? What information must you give me that I do not already know? If it is regarding Gideon Graves's passing, know I have already been made aware of this."

"My highest Lord Vastorith, Master of House Vastorith, Despoiler, Kingslayer, Eater of Men, and many other great titles, it has come to the attention of your knights that there is highly-important information that must be delivered to you at once."

"And what might this information be?" Vastorith inquired.

"There... there have been sightings of another dragon on the Continent, close to the borders of House Vastorith, to be exact. We know little of this dragon save for body specifications from eyewitnesses, and we can deduce it to be a female dragon based upon its shape, coloration, and vocal—"

Almost as if on cue, an inhuman, monstrous sound made its way into the cavern from the outside, belonging to a massive beast perhaps as large as Vastorith himself. The humans in the room could only cower from the noise and listen in a mixture of fear and awe, but to Vastorith, this was no scream. It was a call, a message from whatever dragon this was. It was looking for more of its kind out on Hygard, and looking for those that would answer its call. Finally, it was looking for a companion—a type of call Vastorith never thought he would hear...but always had some innate desire to look for it all the while. Was this his chance? His opportunity to finally have an heir to his fledgling house?

Instinct immediately took in as Vastorith stood up from his throne and thundered towards one of the exits of the cave, which directly spilled out into the outside world. His great wings were spread as soon as he exited the cave, a single flap being enough to launch the dragon into the air, while another propelled him higher up, at a speed fast enough to allow him to turn to the side and perch onto the hook-shaped peak of the great Mount Talon. From there, Vastorith raised his head to the sky and let out a roar in response, which echoed through the streets of Talon Rock below and through the lands of Hygard. It, too, was a message. Whom had sent the call from before? Where had they come from, and, more importantly, where were they? If his instinct was correct—which it normally was—Vastorith had found a female dragon...and a potential companion.

Now, all it comes down to is finding this dragon. He looked over his realm once more, diving off the mountain's peak for a moment and spreading his wings as he soared over the lands of his House.
don't tread on me



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