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  1. I have no preference.
  2. En route to meet Giseppi, Prose found her worries about the inefficiency of her communicatory faculties confirmed. Evelyn had only been the third person Prose met since her incident. As such, the telekinetic would be the first to take note of her uncouth speech. Prose found that if she reduced the size of her words much, nobody could read them. Adversely it was less than ideal to converse in the short sentences the size of her words would require. Along the list of priorities Prose had made since her transformation (escape death, reach shore, find food), speaking had not been one until being approached by her first Handyman. Prose snapped out of reverie and reached to pluck a leaf from an overhanging branch. The leaf was twelve feet up, but her arm extended effortless through the space for it. The black inside distributed evenly throughout her body. She knew by experience she could level a horse with that arm, and that being underestimated by the thin appearance was just another asset. Tendrils of black circuited up the leaf, expanding until it crumpled with a paper bag sound in her fingers. She looked at Evelyn with a grinning skull and crossbones, both happy and gruesome, lighting up her face as she produced a flex with her free arm. Giseppi was well met. Prose could in fact shake hands, just like a human; but her reason for not thinking to had been the tiny claw like things at the bottom of Evelyn’s legs. What was she to shake, the pedipalps next to her chompers? No thanks. Just images of Evelyn suddenly lurching toward her in madness had the lightning rumbling visibly in Prose’s stomach. Practically putting a hand in her mouth was out of the question. There seemed to be a standard pattern that wanted to scroll across Prose’s body when she didn’t speak (clouds, rain, the words “rainy day”), but she would dismiss the default pattern each time with a discharge of electricity that filled her surface like lightning clawing away the night sky. One of these illuminations issued unconsciously out behind Giseppi as his childlike apparition paged through the history of a structure. Prose was curious. She reached a hand for the halfling’s shoulder, and if he responded to the touch she pointed to the apparition, then herself. The words “Does this work on the living?” lit her torso.
  3. Bueno bueno
  4. "In those ruins lies madness, and we are seeking a small island of sanity amid the ocean of lunacy. What can you do? How will you stay alive?" Prose emerged from the brush out of which Evelyn found and addressed her. At first glance she was but a shadow, walking slowly enough to warrant such questions. Her form and gestures, besides thin and feminine, betrayed fewer qualities than a human body might. However as she passed beneath patches of sunlight piercing down from the canopy, her transparent skin danced like water refracting light; and preceding her body turning left, Evelyn would see in those patches of sunlight Prose’ black insides swirling counterclockwise. Her transparent skin adhered to the movement simply as a detached boundary to the moving darkness within. Her empty and therefore endlessly wide gaze encapsulated the giant arachnid and its exercise. Like the rest of the body to which it was host, Prose' face was inky and featureless. It stared blankly up, and surprisingly captured an awe-inspiring spectrum of emotions: curiosity, sadness, hope, patience. Strength. Prose deduced that Evelyn read Terric from the language she spoke, formulating a response only minutely slower than average. She also deduced a notion of speaking to someone through glass, as if she were being watched through the spider’s eyes more than by them. From deep in the folds of her darkness, the homocnidaria produced electrical currents using one of three organs capable of doing so. For the briefest of moments Evelyn would see the organ grumble awake like lightning deep in a thunderhead, before words came streaming across Prose’s torso in an electrical current. “I can survive,” said the bright message on her stomach. Then, like a halide television, the word survive flickered away, and the words and and help emerged. “I can survive, and I can help.” Instead of providing a flashy display in answer, Prose had elected for the simple route. There were the stupid and weak in this world who claimed themselves otherwise, but Prose was neither. Off went the jellyfish lady and the spider, toward the madness within which they sought haven, Prose experiencing one of her scant moments of self-awareness. She contemplated the strangeness of mentor and intern rituals, not just in the Handymen but in all her worldly experience. She knew she was capable, but Evelyn must suspect otherwise. She would have answered the same way if asked those questions again, she thought, for conveying messages like these took little energy, which she preferred to conserve. She contemplated the awkwardness of her current communication faculties, contemplated her story; thought that if she had better means of speaking she might like to tell it. Despite the fact that much of her was concealed by an abundance of pigmented and highly toxic fluid, Prose still possessed a few things human: a bundle of visual nerves where her eyes had been, minuscule skin nerves for touch, something resembling a brain. She had gained in recent years, however, a much altered state of being. It provided her, cursed her with: three organs which could produce one high and one low level of voltage, a line of olfactory nerves where once she had a mouth, amorphousness, and a literally unutterable sense of alienation. Instead of entering Bi’le’ah straight-on, Prose noticed, Evelyn was leading them just slightly alongside its southeastern edge. She didn’t wonder much, assuming correctly there would be a third to their voyage. Ahead emerged from the treeline a sunlit promontory, beneath it an aged monastery. It was there they made their appearance and found Giseppi. The sight of a spider as large as Evelyn’s host and the relatively abnormal Prose would surely rouse the halfling and his greeting, to which Prose raised a hand to wave; and even though her face was as blank as ever, there appeared in its gaunt curvature to sit a smile. A smile that did not touch the divots where her eyes belonged. I rolled a 74 -- safe house
  5. Nothing special Have fun @ezkiel777 n.n
  6. Sener’s vault was crumpling. Without the demon who breathed life it rotted, stank. Its structures contorting on themselves like deflated balloons. The stench of mildew and smoke filled Michael’s and Donovan’s senses, but both were things they were either accustomed to or had means to dispose of if they chose. Michael did not. As the demon’s outline faded away, a rolling cloud of acrid smoke obscured Michael from her view. Obscured her burning relic from his view. It was in that moment of detachment that he suddenly realized something. Something horrible, which would grasp his brain with decayed fingers and wreck him until he brought resolution to this curse. The image of Vilka with Sener’s eyes and curdled grin stamped itself in his brain, and he refused to let it slide away. People like Michael always held on for longer than others. He plunged past Donovan. Through the cloud of smoke, through the last of Sener’s diminishing frame, and grabbed her book. It was nearly gone; the front cover and most of the book’s meat had been blazed away. Resting the charred leather of its back in one palm, the peacekeeper slapped the top of the book with his other. Much of its remains burst into a new cloud of ash which joined others in the indiscriminate smudge filling the room. He pressed the remaining book together between his hands, willing it be spared so that he may retain some piece of the peculiar pain he felt here today. If he was able to smother its destruction, he would put it in his back pocket. Only by virtue of their path out did Michael see the other book of Sener. It stood out against the choking smoke, and having come to hold patient reverence for the books in this vault, Michael thought he should grab that one too. Opening it and fluttering the first few pages, he saw Renes’ name, and the peculiar pain prickled under his skin again. These pains were few of many he harbored. Many, which had in the past driven Commager to do extraordinary and idiotic things. Drove him to mad thoughts and madder actions. He only briefly wondered if he had been a danger to himself, to Donovan, or worse yet, to Vilka. Now a plethora of smells washed past him, perhaps the stages of the room’s accelerated decay, but in the dull pain for which he served eternal residence, he smelled her. He wondered where she was. And the flower of rage and fire inside him, which bloomed faithfully in every dawn of slight against him, wondered where the aberration’s ilk hid. After very little tinkering around in the exits to the vault, Michael and Donovan tasted the cold air of Palgard. “Donovan.” Michael’s desolate voice came from behind as the soft patter of rain began upon them. It was a voice that told Donovan that as a result of their journey, he had resigned himself to something very unpleasant. His face was turned down, dripping, statuesque. His white shirt was no longer white, but a swathe of black fabric wrapped around him. His cloak was a far away dream whose ash washed in rivulets off his back. The hair on his head was matted down, taking on a strangely two-dimensional look. The wielder clenched the undamaged book he had taken, tucking it under his shirt to protect it from getting wet, and the gesture made him look like a sick man clutching himself. “I need to find the next one.” Minor Summary Adventurers Michael and Donovan venture into a vault with Professor Renés. For reasons unknown to the two, Renés places herself into a protective bag, which they carry with them going forward. Sneaking through corridors filled with Grotesquerie, the duo finds a vault containing a demon named Sener. Sener reveals several things, including that she has taken over Renés’ body, that she wishes to escape the vault, and that there are several other relics containing pieces of her form scattered about. Then she attacks. Defeating the demon and taking a book that described its origin and the others’ locations, Michael and Donovan leave the vault. After being deceived by an image of a woman he has strong affection for, Michael resolves to find the other demons. Major Summary Peacekeeper of Biazo Isle, Michael Commager, and Professor of Adventuring at the Gaian Academy, Donovan Cutler, walk into a bar in Palgard. The childhood friends inadvertently came to answer the same call, one by Professor Renés, to vanquish a demon underground. Telling them they will approach an antimagic field and decaying foes, Renés climbs into a bag that protects her magic body from the antimagic field. Michael and Donovan are immediately approached by and defeat an undead inhabitant of the sewer lines called a Grotesquerie. Chased by a swarm of its kind to a shoddily built dead end, Michael and Donovan use a stick of dynamite from their bag to blast an escape route into the catacombs. During this escape, a letter is found written by one adventurer who had come prior to them. This adventurer warned future wayfarers to be wary of the Professor, that she may have lured them into the catacombs. Peacekeeper Commager and Professor Cutler have little time to discuss what they think of the treachery before coming across a mass grave storage of Grotesquerie. Finally within the catacombs, they find a veritable army of the undead-like creatures, acolytes and a priestess figure tending to each as it lay in its bunk inlaid into the stone walls. The priestess leads them to the vault door. Michael, whose suspicions get the best of him, throws the bag containing Renés at the priestess before entering the vault door, which closed behind him and Donovan. The first thing they realize is the return of magical faculties. The second thing Michael realizes is that much of the room is shrouded from his magical eye, a sign that deception was in play against them. The third, that his act of throwing the bag was futile, as it flutters in from a hole in the ceiling. Enter Sener, demon of deception, Raven Mind, possessor of Professor Renés. Sitting upon a throne in the heart of hearts, blackbirds of her magic soaring in clouds about the room, Sener tells the two they have indeed been deceived. Professor Renés was but an illusion who lured capable individuals into the vault. For the outside world is kept from her by the Grotesquerie, who are students and staff of a university Renés was once part of. She converted them with promises of immortality, imparting upon them a curse which demented them into the things Mike and Donny saw on their way in. By placing the relic that contains her into the bag, she says, she can be transported out of the catacombs in which she is held prisoner by the Grotesquerie. She informs them of the other pieces of herself hidden in relics across the land, Asphodel, Aurum, and Ira. She offers to cut a deal with them that has wide parameters, including the immortality she had promised the university. The boys attack anyway, unswayed in their conviction to purge evil from this place. After exhausting many means of dodging attacks and attempts to pierce the deceptions, including an appearance by Michael’s current love interest Vilka, they find the relic. It is a book, one Professor Renés held in her jacket which now sat beside her throne. The flames that Donovan discharged from his sword were what ended up burning the thing away, burning Sener away. Michael takes what he can of the book, finding another that details the location of the other demons. He decides he will find the other pieces of the demon, wishing to make it pay for invoking an image of Vilka against him. Opportunities Find the remaining 3 demon relics. Contact Glacialic Acid and Amenities if pursuing this opportunity. Now that Sener is dead and their burden is lift, help the remaining Grotesqueries rejoin society at large.
  7. The phantasm’s convincing, questioning eyes shifted. Michael thought they looked the color of bile. The anger constricted by the thin lines of his remaining bearing softened into dull hurt as she passed through him. For when she did, she took with her a piece of his heart. A piece of the piece, to be precise, which had belonged to Vilka. Both sword and bag fell from his hands. They had been meaningless artifacts of a misguided chase- his misguided chase, he thought, watching the place her face had been with an emptiness, he saw, it symbolized well. Sener had indeed found a key to a chamber of Michael’s heart. A key to a room he must secure, must hide, close off to the world. He kissed his thumbnail and turned as Donovan took his side, both facing the withering demon. By the time Donovan requested it Michael had already begun the process of decelerating his war machine. Already the full helix of violence presently receded into lines of flames, then dotted lines, and then licks of fire and heat were all that could be seen anywhere in sight. Anywhere, that is, except for the book. “Ask and you shall receive,” he said as if fulfilling the simplest of requests. Donovan’s flames jumped and sputtered on Sener’s book, and though they did not leap as high, burn as brightly, the hottest blues and greens glowed from their hearts, pressed down on every page until it shriveled to nothing within the heat. For now it was no longer a matter of fueling the fire with magic, but simply containing its heat and letting it feed itself with parchment and air. Michael had no words for the one who had toyed with him, hardly even looked at the burning tome. He had known to expect such games from a demon- one of deception no less- but knowing when a wolf will bite seldom gives one a real knowledge of how severe the pain will be. He just stood behind Donovan and steered his scalded thoughts elsewhere. There had been others, Sener said, and each would likely pry the same, but he thought someday they might know his wrath. Donovan's flames ate page after page from the relic, Michael looking away from over Cutler’s shoulder as the foot poised over Sener, as they awaited an answer.
  8. Water lapped against the shores of Biazo. It combed through stones like giants’ teeth, devourers of ships. In the blue dusk before dawn, a slim figure rippled between the stones toward shore, toward the surface. A membranous hand filled with cephalopod ink reached from the sea, webbed fingers grabbing one of the rocks like oil splashing over it. Out of the water hoisted a form, and when the water ceased clinging to it, countenance breaking the wet plane like a finger through saran wrap, there stood Prose in the dark tides. Her transparent flesh absorbed remaining beads of water as she stepped onto dry land. The flesh was transparent, soft, vulnerable. What it showed inside was a series of frilled vesicles and vessels which followed patterns entirely foreign to the human body. Pulsing through the wavy mesoglea was an approximately 80/10 ratio of melanin and water, the latter of which Prose took in using advanced osmosis. The 10% solution coursing through her jelly veins was something even she had not yet ability to articulate. In fact, Prose appeared to lack a mouth with which to articulate much at all. There was a barnacle attached to the intern's head which she reached up and removed with a squelching suction sound. As she did, her entire body illuminated- exposing divots that may once have been the mouth and eyes that eluded her- and the site of the cretaceous creature trickled blackly down her face and body. The creature, when it paffed into the sand on its back, spasmed two and a half times before slowly expanding deceased digits. Prose, body flickering back to dark normality like a dying lightbulb, entered the treeline heading toward Bi’le’ah. She had traveled long in the purgatory between life and death before finding a suitable calling among the ones called Handymen. A Jill of all trades, she could be with her new friends. The master of none had dove on superior directive from the mainland Terrenus, using gentle shifts of the fluid in her body to drift toward the Isle. What remained of her mind was accessible only through the medium of direct command series, not the grasping of principles or complex ideas. This made her a nearly perfect observer and follower of the protocol she was given on the mainland. “Sshhh,” the sound breezing from her mouthless form was almost indiscernible against the soft thresh of plantlife against her skin, but Prose unconsciously articulated her underdeveloped understanding of the Central Information Store Hivemind of which she was told. Reach Biazo Isle. Find other operatives. Secure safe zone. Debrief with Handymen.
  9. Indeed they had fallen into a godsforsaken pit, he mused (like a child does when life is too unfair), where everything was made up and the rules didn’t matter. The muscle driving Michael’s and Donovan’s flames clenched ever tighter though, a combined fury of oranges and reds surging out around the catacombs like an ocean whirlpool. Now there was no restraint behind the torrent; in fact Michael could scarcely control it. Extinguishing such a wildfire would take at least twice as much effort as it had taken to get it going. He had effectively become the turbine driving this mass engine of destruction about the room, devouring book cases and books in black bursts, and the exertion showed in his worming temple and gritted teeth. Breaking stone snapped away from the ceiling above. Though it was barely audible over the roar and crack of fire, he knew Donovan had rejoined the fray. Confident Cutler had the wares to stir up a defense against his flames, Michael stirred the pot ever more. Would they turn this vault into a smoldering dent in the earth before they figured out how to defeat Sener? Michael seemed willing to take the gambit, confused anger twitching across his face in the instant Vilka ignored his urgent and severe question. So it would be. So he decided it would be. The bastion raised his sword as he marched forward. It was not pretty, but the end was jagged and deadly. Any anger on his face had been replace by dutiful focus, for that was all he had room for in this action. His cloak fluttered majestically behind him before being engulfed in flames, becoming an angry cape of fire that lingered blackly. Tendrils of red licked across the once blue cloth like veins of lava. It was hard to see through the rippling heat and whipping fire, but those veins might have been climbing from the cloak onto his neck. The peacekeeper’s white and red and black fire washed over the growing shadow with hungry intent, would wash over Vilka the same if she didn’t have the same capability as the Ms. Ivanoff. The who knew Kyber’s name from Bi’le’ah. This fiery fruition came as she laid hands on the bag, as he drew within five feet of her. Through the flame that engulfed her his hand reached- and one would swear it was touching him without leaving a burn- and locked tightly around the bag Vilka held just as she exclaimed for help. Michael brought his sword down as soon as he felt his hand close around the matter. Vilka might have thought he was swinging at her. For as the flames dashed away from the line his blade made, she would see his illuminated features bearing down her. But alas, the wielder’s sword would rend the bag in two, and then he yanked his portion away, still holding fast. His eyes like silver blades of contempt sliced through the inferno, gleaming upon the alleged Ivanoff. His voice crashed between them like thunder, unhindered by the sound of a burning library. “Answer my question, Vilka.” Donovan would enter the eye of the fire tornado and see Commager holding a shredded half of the bag in one hand. Although Michael hadn’t noticed, his other held the dagger remaining of his sword cocked toward Vilka. There was a trapdoor that warranted some exploring to the left, but Michael had been ensnared by the distraction that was Vilka. He stepped toward her, flames forming claws and talons and all manner of sharp forms which jabbed in at her and her menacing shadow as long as she denied him an answer. Now there was an imprint of burnt skin where the wielder's elementum seal pulsed on his shoulder, but by force of will he denied the receptors that demanded his pain. The largest window of sight through Michael’s innumerable appendages of fire allowed Donovan a view of the trapdoor his fire had come through, but attempting not to collapse the entrance was all he could do with this probably imposter before his raising blade. Fire Elementum Seal- mass incineration
  10. The orb around Michael solidified as his wing-piercing round left its influence. It thickened until, instead of Michael, there approached the railing a blazing nebula of black and deeply shifting tides of red. Sener had turned her attention away, Donovan had blurred by upward, and the peacekeeper had taken two running paces forward to jump, before Ivanof battered down on Sener. Obliterated her form. Almost immediately Sener began to take her human form again though, and she moved first for the bag. Seeing Vilka had spiked adrenaline through Michael’s system like a teammate whose star player just stormed onto the field. It piled in pinpricks and pokes up and down his spine. It filled his mind with questions, confusion, conflicting joy and rage. Had Vilka really come to their aid? Had Sener woven him and image of his love for his bemusement? All of these fuels combusted inside at once, and his black and rosy body streaked through the space between them. By the time Sener laid hands on the bag, Michael had already used the railing as a springboard and now rocketed diagonally down at her as the bag took form. His hand was free now, and he placed it on his sword while the crimson black fester condensed into his fist. He positioned his feet so that he could strike down on her head and land on his feet to stand over her. She was crafty, he now knew, so he allowed room for adjustment and improvisation if she were to move. Or, Gaia forbid, if anything else were to cause him problems. “I just want to see the sky ag—” said the poor demon, and then Michael’s sword- not the mundane piece he had pulled on a ring from the ground, but a bastion of opaque and tangerine light- fanned across his quarter of the room like a ray of light. It would sear a line, smear burning wreckage, in a 15 foot arc on either side of Sener, through the demon’s torso from the elbows up. Books and trinkets, even a corner of the throne’s backrest, flew across the room as balls of fire, scattering the first wave of decimation and conflagration through the great hall. Her head, shoulders, chest, and the bottom half of her arms would be lopped away. The fringes of Michael’s cut flared up in black and pink hues, homing in on the and incinerating whatever components of the foggy professor it touched. This outward manifestation of Stalwart and fire energy was powered by the flexing of what Michael had come to think of as an extra muscle next to his diaphragm, which he had eased into use during their warmup with Sener. This muscle he squeezed, harder and harder, until the black flame aura boiled like liquid. It climbed over the professor and the bag like oil, clawing away pieces of it and eating them up with a hissing rattle. Whatever she was made of, whether it was magic or oxygen, he now focused all of that energy upon devouring. There was a moment of silence where Michael stood on the other side of Sener, sword extended back in the follow-through of his attack. Above its bubbled handguard there remained one warped third of the blade, the rest of it a charred brittled mass. Then the trap door exploded outward, and the second wave of destruction washed over their backs. The concussive force caused the end of his blade to break and crumble away, as Donovan’s fire poured over Michael without touching him. He welcomed all forms of heat, and his eyes closed in reverie as the furnace symphony resounded around him. Gathering himself was a necessity, he thought, for what must come next. He turned with the cooling, useless hunk of steel in his hands, and opened his eyes. Sener had never had a chance to hand the bag to Vilka so his suspicion hadn’t been confirmed, but it was so very alive. Donovan’s fire and Michael’s fire waltzed elegantly around the two, rippled and ripped across the room, as Michael stepped forward. His eyes danced with them too, mingled with malevolent darkness not at all befitting a man of his convictions. Did she dare fool him with a trick like this? Did Sener? Did Vilka? He spat his words abruptly, angrily,with a tone of significant distrust. “What was the name of the subhuman who escorted us through Bi’le’ah?” To the real Vilka, her Michael would appear deranged. The malice in the lines on his face seemed soul-deep, the columns of fire that lingered behind him casting long and unnatural shadows around them. To Sener, if she was now attempting to affect Vilka upon him, Michael would not appear deranged- or at least not delusional. She would see in his eyes that he knew it was her, and not Vilka. She would see that the flames and shadows, the stench of burning hair and dust, crept in with purpose, like contracting extensions of his body. Still his proverbial muscle flexed, the seal on his back warming in response to its extended use. His shadows, his flames, and his feet, stalked toward Vilka. Stalwart Crystal- adds decay agent to fire Fire Elementum Seal- made to incinerate everything within a 5 meter diameter of Michael, then return to him
  11. “Alright you, you, and you are with me.” Janus pointed at the offstage Jack as he concluded his pull of whiskey and two others who had issued shouts that they would patrol the city. One was a slightly thin, but absolutely athletic elf. His lithe posture suggested he could take off and run a 3 second 40-yard dash; his loose and short white robes, gilded yellow, suggested they would allow it; his eyes, sharp and reptilian, suggested his teammates would see it at some point. The other was a stocky, rugged looking man with a battle hammer backed with an axehead slung to his back. He looked like a brutally effective tool for simple tasks. Now that the time had come to draw straws and face the Beast that plagued many of these mens’ nightmares, the crowd before the stage began to disperse. Curse men, Janus thought, who would walk to the edge of madness just to see it before turning tail. Cowards. She turned her head away from the crowd and saw the Ransoms, eager as all hell to march into the jaws of this madness, and smiled. At least there were some people left with the patience and power to accompany her into the black death that surely awaited. Borris had been the only Watchman who had followed her this far- all the others were mirrors of the people who meandered away now, as if there were suddenly much more important (less life-threatening) business to attend to. Turning her head the other way she saw that she was not alone. There was Hana, there was the drinking man- Tobais had wandered back down to the square without declaring what group he would accompany, but he appeared to be hanging around- and there were a few less descript figures standing on the city side including a dwarf, an unnaturally small golem, and a teenager with white hair. “Sorry, Ransoms, you’re gonna be with Captain Alenko,” Janus cast a warm smile their way- perhaps it was that they had so whole-heartedly joined the fight that she showed them this warmth. “She doesn’t bite, “I don’t think.” When all was said and done, the Ransoms and Hana were grouped with the dwarf, the white-haired boy, and the golem. Janus had Jack alcoholic, the speedy looking elf, and the rugged man. On the other side there was another, however: Morrin the elf representative combated Sal Birkshaw. Damn, they were packing those pies away like trash compactors on steroids. It was almost imperceptible but Sal was, to the chagrin and surprise of audience members who appeared to be holding raffle tickets or betting cards, slowing his pace. Morrin continued unerringly, now about three pies ahead of the fat man on his haunches. “Alright,” came Janus’s voice from around the curtain. “Let’s group up and take off.” At the words, Morrin stood up suddenly enough to send his chair clattering behind him. He did not simply place his fork down, no, he pushed the entire stack of pie tins off the front of the stage and looked away with an expression of mild disgust, like a child pushing away his carrots and peas. “I will accompany the group that scours the city!” He announced. This was much to the confusion of the crowd on the pie eating side of the stage, but his voice boomed clear across the marketplace so that those on the other side heard his voice like a gonging bell filled with cherry and apple pie. With four backward steps, Morrin backed himself through the spot where the side of the thick curtain hung beside the scaffolding that held it up. Those on Janus’s side of the stage would see him back into view finger already thrust into the air exclamatorily, then pivot neatly to face them. His face was covered in red and brownish pie filling, large flakes of crust clinging to his cheeks, and he now daubed at them with the white towel tucked into his crimson three-piece’s collar. “Ah, another elf!” Morrin thrust his hand toward Zin, the quicker looking of the elves. “Morrin Xander, babysitter watchman of the northwest! It’s a real pleasure.” The other elf took his hand with a confused smile, and then he turned to Janus. He appeared incensed by the pie he had eaten, not slowed by it at all. His assistant Jane came around the stage, pushing her glasses up and pulling her skirt down to her knees. Pesky thing kept sliding up, she knew she should have got a size larger. Why hadn’t she again? She just couldn’t remember. “Yes,” he said to Janus with gusto. “Let us be off.” Janus gave little notice to Morrin’s strangeness and began walking to the north, beckoning for her group to follow. Jane followed too. Borris remained on his perch, but swiveled to face after them. He still had his bow trained with odd readiness upon her. “The area the Beast has taken from is expanding from the northeast. We’re going to a stakeout location now. It’s strange that you’re here, Morrin,” she said. Skepticism didn’t touch her expression, it was wide knowledge that Morrin the representative had exercised much of his vacation time in the last months. “Ahh, you know. Always looking for my big way to come back on the scene,” he responded. Jane walked behind largely ignored, clutching a cute trapper keeper across her chest. Morrin suddenly turned and pointed toward Jack who held the whisky. “What of you, fella? What brings you out here?” It was mostly by coincidence Morrin had pointed at Jack first. Back with Hana’s group, who had chosen the forest, there had been a path placed on a map Janus gave Hana before departing that would lead them into the forest to the northeast of Tia. Their street forked away from Janus’s group so they would be walking along for some time. There were directions for getting into hiding and observing anything that would occur that night where the city grew sparce and the forest grew dense. That was where they headed now, but the walk would take some time. The dwarf chimed up, “Well let’s get to know each other. I don’t know entirely enough about this to trust you guys. Don’t mind hunting, it’s being hunted I’m wary of.” First he extended a hand toward Lukus. “I’m Jaro, demolitions extraordinaire. I hail from Palgard, before it fell apart. You’re one of the boys who talked to the old lady aren’tcha?”
  12. The bastion didn’t have to look, didn’t have to think, to know Donovan did what was right. This freed him to act with pure focus. Mike heard the explosive behind him, had even anticipated she might jerk her head back. He had hardly considered her capable of breaking the very floors he traversed (he wasn’t even sure she had a solid body until hearing Donovan’s strike), but he hadn’t ruled it out. When the floor beneath the running Commager tremored like a small wave in front of a much larger one, his leg unspooled with a steam-like discharge of all the energy he had gathered between there and his Bull Ring, and pistoled him forward in a twenty foot long jump. Behind him Sener’s head erupted through the ground and sent bookshelves splintering helter skelter. Before him the stairs. Around him, a shimmering orb of light that reflected the remains of Sener’s green fire and glistened with pinpricks of his own remaining red flame. He landed on his feet ahead of the collapse, perhaps on the stairs, but was ready to jump for safe ground again if the collapse reached the stairs as well. This jump would only grant him another six or seven feet horizontally or diagonally or vertically, unassisted by the bull ring which now scalded the wielder’s hand unbeknownst to him. If he made it, he pulled his pistol as he ascended and rounding the corner to the fourth floor. As soon as he could level his Tszok on her, which would be just as she spread her mangy wings, he fired at the middle of her right wing. Wary of her floorbusting potential now, the young adventurer prepared himself to be agile. He began sprinting along the fourth floor in a counterclockwise circle around her, so she would have to turn into her injured wing to turn with. He had no idea what level of discomfort that would cause her, he was just moving. Separating him from the railing to the fourth floor were the intermittent bookshelves that lined it, and he saw Sener in fraction-seconds between them. He estimated the distance to the railing was about six good steps and kept that distance, running down an aisle between the rows of bookshelves. His hand finally began to signal some discomfort from the singing bull ring, and he knew he would need other methods of covering distance. Floor 4, he decided, was where he was going to jump from. There ignited a furnace in his chest and stomach. While his light barrier reflected with the eerie green glow of Sener’s flame to the extent that it almost shrouded him, glancing across its surface were foreign hues of red and yellow. Bull ring: jump farther
  13. “You have seen my relic before. Do you not recall?” The book of precious excavations slid with a sandpaper sound from Commager’s grasp as soon as he saw its contents. Shattered glass winking from the ceiling would see the cold disregard in his eyes before the volume flopped dustily to the floor. For each clap of gunfire emanating from Michael’s hand, an image flashed through his head of Renes. The one he had seen in the Bar; after all, he couldn’t very well go off of the feathered giant he faced now. As he moved, he registered where other answers most likely lay. There was a reason Sener had called him foolish for throwing the bag, and he thought he may now see. He thought Donovan might make similar observations, if he had not already. Regardless of the fine details, there seemed to Michael two places they needed to be in the room. Cutler turned his head. Commager sheathed his smoking gun and turned his head too. Without moving but using peripheral twitches of the eye as Sener reacted to the breaking glass, Michael believed he had gestured with sufficient subtlety for Donovan to go for the bag. All three of them took off like shots at the same time, the professor swinging for Michael and raining fire on Donovan. While the latter of the two razed through the air, the former mounted the railing on the second floor. In a fluid motion his other foot leveraged off a bookshelf like a ladder and he grabbed the landing above him, hoisting until he could swing a leg and then himself up. He would narrowly avoid the swipe, might even catch some of it with minor adjustment by Sener, unless Donovan’s jawbreaking attack managed to occupy her well enough. While the Oculus afforded him a full range of vision, focusing on somewhere besides where he climbed was not a capacity he would afford himself now. Therefore the bastion would see little of Donovan’s exchange with Sener, but he would hear the crack of his meteoric strike on the creature’s jaw; the familiar crack of bone, he knew. Commager’s finished mounting the third-floor railing just as the beast’s head lurched for the floor he’d just ascended from. He dug his hand into his pocket, retrieving the unimpressive trinket and imbuing it with his somewhat more impressive energy. As green heat began spewing on the tier beneath, he whipped the chained jewelry down toward the demon’s neck, then hightailed it for the stairs to floor 4 without a glance backward. The force with which he hurled the object down on Sener was pitch-worthy, blazing through the air until it would impact their feathered foe and suddenly explode in spastic blossoms of red and black flame. The initial detonation of decay and flame magic would do most of the damage, fatal to an ungifted human at a 2 meter radius (for scale), but the attack would not linger without something organic and flammable to feed on. By the time the explosion resolved, the peacekeeper would be hurdling stairs to the fourth floor four at a time. His legs coiled and uncoiled now with natural, but altogether unnatural strength. It climbed his calves and hamstrings like a good warm-up, running in hot streams from the ring on his finger, up his arm, and down his torso.
  14. I'll post on Wednesday or Thursday, giving @Don't Hug My Trees a chance to get in if exams are the holdup.